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£  BISMARCK 


AN 


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CHARLES    LOWE,    M.A 


itt)    Ch)o    portraits. 


COPYRIGHT,  1895,  BY 
THE  CASSELL^PUBLISHING  CO. 

All  rights  reserved. 


INTRODUCTION. 


IT  is  given  to  many  a  man,  of  whom  history  takes  no  note,  to 
advance  in  some  degree  the  greatness  and  prosperity  of  his 
country.  It  is  given  to  a  few  men  in  each  century  so  to  guide 
the  forward  movement  of  their  people,  that  the  progress  made 
seems  mainly  due  to  their  initiative,  and  becomes  indissolubly 
linked  with  their  names.  Among  these  few  there  is  sometimes 
one  who  has  the  chance  to  deal  with  a  question  vital  to  his  land 
and  ready  for  solution,  and  who  brings  the  intelligence  and 
energy  necessary  to  solve  it;  who  leads  his  nation  through  a 
crisis  in  its  destiny  to  the  goal  of  centuries  of  desire  and  effort; 
whose  achievements  make  all  that  has  been  done  before  seem 
tentative  and  preparatory — a  series  of  episodes  to  which  his 
success  gives  dramatic  roundness  and  conclusion.  This  has 
been  the  happy  fortune  of  Prince  Bismarck.  He  is  the  unifier 
of  Germany ;  and,  in  the  light  of  this  result,  the  compli- 
cated and  often  perplexing  course  of  German  history  seems  after 
all  to  have  a  distinct  central  motive ;  viz.,  the  struggle  for  a 
satisfactory  national  organization — for  unity. 

All  the  German  tribes  were  brought  beneath  one  sceptre,  that 
of  Charles  the  Great,  at  the  beginning  of  the  ninth  century. 
But  the  Prankish  conquests  did  not  create  a  German  nation,  for 
the  various  German  tribes  were  only  parts  of  a  universal  European 
empire.  With  the  final  division  of  this  empire  in  887,  it  seemed 
that  the  basis  was  laid  for  a  great  German  state.  King  Arnulf 

ruled  Germans  only,  and  ruled  nearly  all  the  purely  German 

ill 


,v  INTRODUCTION. 

territories  of  the  Oarolingian  empire.  But  the  German  kings 
had  inherited  from  their  imperial  predecessors  the  thirst  for 
imperial  power.  Arnulf  himself  was  crowned  emperor  at  Rome, 
and  under  his  Saxon  successors  in  the  tenth  century,  the  union 
of  the  royal  and  imperial  titles  became  permanent.  From  this 
time  the  emperors  so  squandered  their  material  resources  and 
their  energy  in  the  effort  to  rule  Italy,  that  they  ceased  at  last 
to  be  truly  kings  in  Germany.  The  officials  of  the  crown  made 
their  offices  heritable  property;  they  became  princes,  and  the 
power  of  the  emperor  in  their  territories  lessened  from  reign  to 
reign.  The  great  prelates,  likewise,  freed  their  territories  more 
and  more  from  the  imperial  control :  and  finally  the  cities 
obtained  a  municipal  independence  that  was  almost  municipal 
sovereignty. 

In  the  religious  wars  of  the  sixteenth  and  seventeenth  centu- 
ries, the  Hapsburgs,  in  whose  house  the  imperial  dignity  had 
become  almost  hereditary,  made  a  last  great  effort  to  re-establish 
their  power  over  Germany;  and  the  result  was  the  decisive 
triumph  of  local  sovereignty  and  disunity.  Germany  had  become 
mainly  protestant ;  the  house  of  Hapsburg  had  remained 
catholic.  The  aim  of  the  Hapsburgs  was  to  re-establish  the 
imperial  rule  in  the  widest  sense;  to  subject  Germany  to  one  law 
and  one  faith.  In  saving  its  religious  liberty,  Germany  lost  its 
chance  of  political  unity,  and  condemned  itself  to  division  and 
weakness  at  the  very  moment  at  which  its  neighbors  were  becom- 
ing strong.  In  the  thirty  years'  war,  Germany  became  the 
battle-ground,  not  of  the  warring  faiths  only,  but  of  the  conflict- 
ing dynastic  ambitions  of  Europe;  and  during  the  two  following 
centuries  every  great  European  question  was  fought  out  upon 
German  soil.  "In  the  merciless  justice  of  history,"  says 
von  Treitschke,  "the  nation  that  had  lusted  to  rule  Europe 
was  cast  under  the  feet  of  the  stranger." 

In  the   seventeenth    and   eighteenth    centuries   the    "Holy 


^ 


INTRODUCTION.  v 

Roman  Empire  "  was  the  jest  ot  Europe.  Its  rulers  had  pre- 
served the  pomp  but  parted  with  all  the  substance  of  power. 
The  "'most  invincible"  emperor  had  neither  money  nor  men 
for  the  defense  of  his  realm.  That  Germany  lost  its  bound- 
aries to  the  west  and  north  was  only  natural;  that  it  did  not 
share  the  fate  of  Poland  was  due  chiefly  to  Prussia.  Out  of 
the  wreck  of  the  empire  there  had  sprung  up,  among  a  mul- 
titude of  petty  principalities,  two  strong  states — Austria  and 
Prussia.  Austria  was  the  older  and  the  stronger  ;  but  after  the 
failure  of  its  attempt  to  impose  upon  Germany  its  rule  and  its 
religion,  Austria  turned  its  back  upon  the  fatherland  and  de- 
voted itself  to  schemes  of  extension  eastward.  Upon  Prussia 
fell  the  brunt  of  the  defence  of  Germany.  A  singular  series  of 
chances  had  given  to  the  Hohenzollerns  of  Brandenburg  outly- 
ing territories  extending  to  the  Niemen  on  the  east  and  to  the 
Rhine  on  the  west ;  and  in  defending  their  own  possessions  they 
were  obliged  to  protect  the  empire.  Brandenburg -Prussia 
throve  under  the  task,  and  grew  strong  in  doing  its  duty  :  so 
strong  that  in  the  eighteenth  century,  under  the  great  Frede- 
rick, it  was  able  to  make  head,  not  against  Austria  only,  but 
against  half  of  Europe. 

At  the  outbreak  of  the  revolutionary  wars,  at  the  close  of  the 
last  century,  Germany  was  in  name  an  empire,  in  reality  a 
"trias," — Austria,  Prussia,  and  a  great  number  of  petty  prin- 
cipalities. The  empire  included  eighty-six  ecclesiastical  terri- 
tories (archbishoprics,  bishoprics  and  abbacies),  and  two  hun- 
dred and  thirty-eight  secular  territories  (ruled  by  dukes,  mar- 
graves, landgraves,  princes  and  counts),  besides  fifty-one  free 
cities  and  one  thousand  four  hundred  and  seventy-five  knight- 
fees,  whose  possessors  were  "immediate,"  i.  e.,  owed  allegiance 
to  no  one  but  the  emperor. 

In  the  course  of  the  revolutionary  wars  the  number  of  im- 
perial estates  was  greacly  reduced.  By  the  peace  of  Luneville, 


vi  INTRODUCTION. 

in  1801,  all  the  left  Dank  of  the  Rhine  was  ceded  to  France. 
Ninety-seven  principalities  and  free  cities,  and  a  great  number 
of  knight-fees,  were  transformed  into  four  new  French  depart- 
ments. The  treaty  ot  peace  declared  that  all  the  secular  princes 
who  had  lost  territory  by  this  cession  were  to  be  indemnified  by 
the  empire.  This  was  done  at  Ratisbon  in  1803.  The  in- 
demnifying material  was  obtained  by  "mediatizing"  all  the 
free  cities  but  six,  and  suppressing  all  the  spiritual  estates  but 
three.  In  1806  Napoleon  formed  the  Confederation  of  the  Rhine, 
and  again  enriched  the  larger  principalities  at  the  expense  of 
the  smaller.  The  Rhine  Confederation  came,  in  1810,  to  include 
all  that  was  left  of  Germany — i.  e.,  all  that  was  not  under  the 
direct  rule  of  foreign  sovereigns — except  Austria  and  Prussia, 
and  much  of  what  had  previously  been  Austrian  or  Prussian 
territory.  In  the  formation  and  development  of  this  confed- 
eration Napoleon  suppressed  two  more  free  cities,  seventy-two 
secular  principalities,  the  three  remaining  spiritual  estates,  and 
all  the  existing  knight-fees. 

When  the  allies  overthrew  Napoleon  for  the  second  and  last 
time  at  Waterloo,  and  reduced  France  by  the  second  peace  of 
Paris  to  its  former  (pre-revolutionary)  boundaries,  the  con- 
gress of  Vienna  undertook  the  re-organization  of  Germany. 
None  of  the  small  estates  suppressed  by  Napoleon  were  re-estab- 
lished, for  the  simple  reason  that  the  larger  states  which  had 
received  the  spoil  refused  absolutely  to  give  it  up.  Not  even  in 
the  lands  regained  from  France  was  the  old  order  restored. 
These  lands  were  needed  to  indemnify  Prussia  and  oth^r  states 
for  damages  suffered  at  the  hands  of  Napoleon,  and  costs  in- 
curred in  overthrowing  him.  The  map  of  Germany  was  thus 
greatly  simplified.  Of  nearly  two  thousand  "immediate  es- 
tates" in  existence  in  1793,  there  were  left  in  1815  but  thirty- 
nine;  viz.,  the  Austrian  empire  and  five  kingdoms  (Prussia, 
Bavaria,  Wurttemberg,  Hannover  and  Saxony),  twenty -nine 


XNTRODVCTIOtf.  vii 

grand  duchies,  duchies  and  principalities,  and  four  free  cities 
(Hamburg,  Liibeck,  Bremen  and  Frankfurt). 

The  "  Holy  Roman  Empire  "  had  ceased  to  exist  in  1806.  It 
was  not  resuscitated.  The  thirty-nine*  states  and  cities  were 
grouped  together  into  a  loose  confederation.  The  only  central 
organ  of  this  confederation  was  a  federal  diet,  representing  the 
states,  not  the  people,  of  Germany.  Its  members  were  nomi- 
nated by  the  governments  of  the  single  states,  and  voted  as  their 
governments  instructed.  The  composition  of  the  diet  and  the 
distribution  of  votes  differed  according  to  the  nature  of  the  busi- 
ness to  be  transacted.  In  the  full  diet — -plenum" — each  state 
had  at  least  one  vote  ;  the  larger  states  had  each  two  or  three 
votes,  Austria  and  Prussia  each  four.  The  full  diet  alone  could 
make  organic  modifications  in  the  federal  law,  admit  new  mem- 
bers to  the  confederation,  declare  war  and  make  peace.  It  met 
seldom  ;  in  the  later  history  of  the  confederation,  never.  The 
ordinary  business  of  the  confederation  was  transacted  by  a 
"narrower  council"  in  which  eleven  of  the  larger  states  had 
each  one  vote,  while  the  other  states  and  the  free  cities  wero 
grouped  into  six  "curiaB",  each  curia  casting  one  vote.  It  was 
in  this  narrower  council  of  the  federal  diet  that  Otto  von  Bis- 
marck passed  his  political  Lehrjahre  (1850-59)  as  representative 
of  the  Prussian  government.  The  powers  of  the  federal  govern- 
ment— if  it  could  be  called  a  government — were  exceedingly 
limited.  All  real  power  resided  in  the  governments  of  the  single 
states. 

This  solution — or  rather  this  failure  to  reach  a  solution — of  the 
national  question  filled  the  German  people  with  chagrin.  When 
all  Germany  rose  in  1813  to  drive  the  foreigner  from  the  soil  ot 
the  fatherland,  the  princes  had  promised  the  reorganization  of 
Germany  on  a  national  basis.  The  people  thought,  and  rightly, 

*  Diminished  before  1866  to  thirty-three,  by  the  extinction  of  several 
petty  dynasties  and  the  abdication  of  others. 


viii  INTRODUCTION. 

that  the  promise  had  not  been  kept.  But  how  could  it  have 
been  kept?  National  unity  is  unthinkable  without  a  centre  of 
supreme  power;  and  Germany  had  emerged  from  the  Napoleonic 
wars  as  it  had  entered  them,  a  "  trias" — two  great  powers  jeal- 
ously confronting  each  other, -and  a  complex  of  little  states  un- 
willing to  subject  themselves  to  either.  If  either  of  the  two 
great  powers  would  have  submitted  to  the  domination  of  the 
other,  the  little  states  would  have  been  powerless  to  resist  the 
dominant  state  ;  but  such  a  voluntary  submission  was  not  to  be 
expected  from  either  Austria  or  Prussia.  Which  of  these  two 
was  to  rule  Germany  was  a  question  not  to  be  decided  by  the  wis- 
dom of  any  number  of  diplomats,  but  solely  by  the  arbitrament 
of  battle. 

But  whenever  that  question  should  come  to  decision,  the 
union  of  Germany  under  the  sceptre  of  the  victor  was  sure  to 
follow  at  once.  The  sou th- western  kingdoms  and  duchies  of 
the  confederation,  in  spite  of  their  greatly  increased  area  and 
population,  were  much  weaker  than  the  little  estates  which  con- 
stituted the  third  member  of  the  "trias"  in  the  old  empire. 
The  estates  of  the  old  empire  rested  on  a  legal  basis.  Any  de- 
fect in  their  title  to  existence  had  been  healed  by  a  prescription 
of  centuries.  The  new  "sovereignties"  of  the  confederation 
rested  on  no  basis  except  spoliation.  The  kings  of  Bavaria  and 
Wurttemberg  were  kings,  as  the  people  mockingly  described 
them,  "by  the  grace  of  Napoleon."  So  much  at  least  had  been 
gained  through  the  revolution.  It  had  destroyed,  the  old  legal- 
ities, and  had  left  nothing  with  any  moral  basis  for  existence  in 
their  stead. 

The  establishment  of  national  unity  was  not  the  only  desire 
which  possessed  the  minds  of  the  Germans  in  1813-15,  and  the 
failure  of  the  princes  to  keep  their  word  in  this  matter  was  not 
the  only  ground  of  popular  disaffection  in  the  following  uecades. 
The  first  and  most  abiding  result  of  the  French  revolution  in 


INTRODUCTION.  ix 

the  minds  of  the  German  people  was  the  desire  for  representa- 
tion in  the  government  of  the  single  states — for  constitutionalism. 
Here  again  assurances  had  been  given  by  the  princes  during  the 
struggle  with  Napoleon  which  the  greater  part  failed  to  make 
good.  From  1815  these  two  ideas,  national  unity  and  representa- 
tive government,  became  indissolubly  connected  in  the  popular 
-mind;  and  in  the  plans  of  the  popular  leaders,  so  far  as  they  can  be 
said  to  have  had  plans,  liberty  was  always*  the  means  by  which 
unity  was  to  be  attained.  The  chief  obstacle  to  unity,  they 
argued,  was  the  selfish  dynastic  interest  of  the  princes;  let  the 
people  once  grasp  the  reins  of  government,  and  there  would  be 
nothing  to  prevent  the  national  organization  of  Germany. 

The  revolution  of  1848  gave  the  Germans  an  unexpected  op- 
portunity to  test  this  programme.  In  Vienna,  in  Berlin,  in  the 
capitals  of  all  the  German  states  where  constitutional  govern- 
ment had  not  yet  been  established,  the  people  rose  and  com- 
pelled their  princes  to  give  or  promise  them  representative  in- 
stitutions. The  princes  were  also  constrained  to  issue  writs  for 
the  election  of  deputies  to  a  national  parliament;  and  when  this 
parliament  met  at  Frankfurt  and  established  a  provisional  gov- 
ernment, the  federal  diet  surrendered  its  authority  to  the  new 
government  and  disbanded. 

The  movement  came  to  nothing.  It  was  badly  managed;  but 
if  it  had  been  better  managed  it  would  still  have  come  to  noth- 
ing. The  substitution  of  one  national  sovereignty  for  two 
score  state-sovereignties  could  not  be  accomplished  by  debates 
and  votes.  But  the  assembled  popular  wisdom  of  Germany  did. 
not  even  approach  the  cardinal  question — whether  Austria  or 
Prussia  should  be  made  the  centre  of  the  new  Germany — until  it 
was  too  late  to  accomplish  anything.  Months  of  valuable  time 
were  wasted  in  discussing  "fundamental  rights,"  and  it  was  not 
until  the  end  of  March,  1849,  that  the  parliament  decided  to 
offer  the  imperial  crown  to  Frederick  William  IV.  of  Prussia.  A 


delegation  was  sent  to  Berlin  to  make  the  offer.  The  king  called 
their  attention  to  the  fact  that  they  were  offering  him  something 
which  was  not  theirs  to  bestow.  He  reminded  them  that  there 
were  princes  in  Germany,  and  that  he  could  not  exercise  impe- 
rial authority  over  those  princes  without  their  consent.  He 
therefore  refused  to  assume  the  imperial  title.  This  refusal  was 
due,  in  part,  to  reasons  other  than  those  which  he  gave  the  dele-' 
gation.  He  shrank  from  the  revolutionary  taint  which  hung 
about  the  proffered  crown.  He  thought  the  Frankfurt  consti- 
tution too  democratic.  But  the  reasons  which  he  gave  were 
sufficient.  The  petty  princes  had  recovered  from  the  stupor 
of  alarm  into  which  the  revolution  of  the  preceding  year  had 
plunged  them,  and  were  not  likely  to  submit  themselves  volun- 
tarily to  a  Hohenzollern  master.  The  offer  of  the  imperial 
crown  was  therefore  simply  an  invitation  to  the  King  of  Prussia 
to  mobilize  his  army  and  take  it.  But  this  meant  war  with 
Austria ;  for  Austria  had  already  beaten  down  the  revolution  in 
Vienna  and  in  Italy,  secured  the  aid  of  Eussia  against  the  insur- 
gent Hungarians,  and  would  soon  have  its  hands  free  for  action 
in  Germany. 

After  refusing  the  offer  of  the  Frankfurt  parliament,  the  King 
of  Prussia  endeavored,  by  negotiation  with  the  North-German 
princes,  to  establish  a  union  of  the  North-German  states  under 
the  hegemony  of  Prussia.  But  these  efforts  were  thwarted  by 
the  opposition  of  Austria.  For  a  moment,  at  Olmutz,  it  seemed 
likely  that  the  two  states  would  come  to  a  decision  of  their 
relative  strength — and  of  the  German  question — by  war.  But 
Russia  stood  behind  Austria,  and  Prussia  gave  way.  The  pro- 
posed union  of  North  Germany  was  abandoned,  and  the  old  fed- 
eral diet  reassembled  at  Frankfurt. 

It  was  during  these  troubled  times  that  the  man  who  was 
not  merely  to  offer  but  to  give  the  imperial  crown  to  a  king  of 
Prussia  first  drew  upon  himself  the  attention  of  the  public. 


sine* 


INTRODUCTION.  xi 

Herr  von  Bismarck  was  a  member  of  the  Prussian  diet  in  1848, 
and  distinguished  himself  by  the  energy  and  audacity  with 
which  he  maintained  the  cause  of  royal  absolutism.  In  1849  he 
warmly  defended  the  course  of  the  king  in  refusing  the  impe- 
rial title,  basing  his  defence  on  the  democratic  character  of  the 
Frankfurt  constitution.  He  compared  the  pact  which  the  king, 
by  accepting  such  a  constitution,  would  make  with  the  democra- 
cy to  the  pact  between  the  hunter  and  the  devil,  in  the  Frei- 
schiitz :  sooner  or  later,  he  said,  the  people  would  come  to  the 
emperor,  and,  pointing  to  the  imperial  arms,  would  say,  "Do 
you  fancy  this  eagle  was  given  you  for  nothing  ?  " 

It  is  not  singular  that  the  attitude  of  Bismarck  attracted  the 
attention  and  secured  the  confidence  of  the  king.  In  1851  he 
was  sent  to  Frankfurt,  and  shortly  afterwards  appointed  repre- 
sentative of  Prussia  in  the  re-established  federal  diet.  There 
he  remained  for  eight  years,  convincing  himself  more  and  more 
fully  of  the  absurdity  of  the  federal  organization,  of  the  neces- 
sity of  a  national  union  under  Prussian  leadership,  and  of  the 
impossibility  of  attaining  this  end  without  war  with  Austria. 
In  reading  Bismarck's  reports  during  these  eight  years,  one  is 
struck  with  the  constant  iteration  of  warnings  against  Austrian 
aggressions,  denunciations  of  Austrian  intrigues,  and  demon- 
strations of  the  necessary  antagonism  between  Austrian  and 
Prussian  interests.  The  dominant  clique  at  Berlin  was  friendly 
to  Austria  ;  the  king  himself  was  well  disposed  to  Austria ;  and 
Bismarck  was  trying  to  educate  king  and  court  into  hostility  to 
Austria. 

In  the  year  1858,  Frederick  William  IV.  became  insane  and 
his  brother,  the  crown  prince,  assumed  the  regency.  In  1859, 
Bismarck  was  sent  as  Prussian  ambassador  to  St.  Petersburg. 
In  1861,  Frederick  William  IV.  died,  and  the  prince  regent  be- 
came king.  In  William  I.  Prussia  obtained,  for  the  first  time 
since  the  death  of  Frederick  the  Great,  a  really  capable  ruler; 


xii  INTRODUCTION. 

one  worthy  to  be  named  with  the  Great  Elector  and  Frederick 
William  I.  King  William — now  Emperor  William — is  not 
possessed  of  genius,  unless  an  unusual  amount  of  common  sense 
is  genius.  He  is  an  able  organizer  of  armies  and  an  exceptionally 
good  judge  of  men.  His  most  valuable  trait  has  been  a  fixedness 
of  resolve,  which  often  approaches  obstinacy.  Having  once 
decided  that  a  person  is  worthy  of  his  confidence,  or  that  a  par- 
ticular line  of  policy  is  expedient,  no  amount  of  opposition  will 
make  him  withdraw  his  confidence  from  his  man  or  alter  his 
measures.  This  trait  in  King  William's  character  has  often  been 
sorely  trying  to  his  brilliant  and  imperious  minister.  Bismarck 
has  more  than  once  found  it  necessary  so  to  shape  events  that 
their  inexorable  logic  should  supplement  his  arguments,  and 
compel  the  king  where  it  was  impossible  to  persuade  him.  But 
without  this  trait  in  the  character  of  his  master  the  career  of 
the  minister  would  have  been  impossible.  Only  a  very  obstinate 
king  would  have  kept  Bismarck  at  the  head  of  his  government 
during  the  three  years  (1863-66)  before  Koniggratz. 

Bismarck  utilized  his  three  years  in  St.  Petersburg  (1859-62) 
in  cementing  the  friendly  relations  already  existing  between 
Russia  and  Prussia.  His  aim  of  course  was  to  secure  Russia's 
neutrality  in  the  event  of  war  between  Prussia  and  Austria.  In 
1862  he  was  recalled  to  Berlin,  and  offered  the  minister-presi- 
dency of  Prussia.  He  was  disinclined  to  accept  it;  at  least,  be- 
fore he  had  satisfied  himself  that  his  plans  against  Austria  would 
not  be  opposed  by  France.  To  France  he  went,  accordingly,  as 
ambassador  of  the  Prussian  king,  and  remained  there  through 
the  summer. 

When,  in  the  autumn,  he  was  peremptorily  summoned  to 
Berlin,  he  was  satisfied  that  Napoleon  could  be  managed.  He 
had  read  his  man  to  the  bottom;  knew  precisely  what  propor- 
tions of  idealism  and  of  craft  entered  into  his  mental  make-up; 
and  (perhaps  not  the  least  important  result  of  his  mission)  he 


INTRODUCTION.  xiii 

had  left  in  Napoleon's  mind  the  conviction  that  the  new  minis- 
ter-president of  Prussia  was  a  madman  who,  with  a  little  en- 
couragement, would  bring  Prussia  to  the  verge  of  ruin  and  open 
golden  opportunities  to  the  cool  and  far-sighted  emperor  of  the 
French.  Eight  years  later  Napoleon  was  a  prisoner  in  Germany, 
and  King  William  was  marching  on  Paris  with  a  united  Ger- 
many at  his  back. 

It  does  not  fall  within  the  plan  of  this  introduction  to  trace 
even  in  outline  the  history  of  those  wonderful  eight  years.  How 
the  Schleswig-Holstein  question  was  solved  by  the  Danish  war, 
the  German  question  by  the  wars  with  Austria  and  France,  and 
with  what  marvellous  skill  and  foresight  Bismarck  contrived  to 
gain,  at  the  close  of  each  struggle,  ground  of  diplomatic  vantage 
for  the  coming  contest — all  this  has  been  often  described,  but 
never  more  clearly  than  by  Mr.  Lowe. 

The  first  volume  of  the  present  work  brings  the  history  of 
Bismarck's  life  down  to  the  close  of  the  Franco-German  war. 
The  second  covers  the  period  from  1871  to  1885.  In  this  second 
volume  the  English  reader  has  offered  him,  for  the  first  time, 
a  connected  sketch  of  Bismarck's  foreign  and  internal  policy 
si  nee -the  establishment  of  the  German  empire.  In  this  decade 
and  a  half  fall  events  of  the  greatest  importance.  The  stability 
of  the  new  empire  has  been  assured  by  diplomacy  no  less  skill- 
ful than  that  employed  in  its  erection.  Austria  has  been  con- 
verted from  a  sullen  foe  into  a  steadfast  friend.  Italy  has  been 
brought  into  alliance  with  Austria  and  Germany — an  alliance 
whose  declared  object  is  the  maintenance  of  the  European  peace. 
Germany  has  developed  into  a  naval  power  of  the  first  rank,  and 
has  taken  the  first  steps  toward  the  establishment  of  commercial 
colonies.  Within,  the  empire  has  been  and  is  still  agitated  by 
two  great  conflicts  :  the  old  struggle  with  the  Roman  catholic 
church,  'and  the  new  struggle  with  social  democracy.  In  all  the 


xiv  INTRODUCTION. 

questions  of  this  period,  German  and  European,  the  imperial 
chancellor  is  always  an  important  and  often  a  determinant  fac- 
tor; and  his  biography  necessarily  becomes  a  history  not  of 
Germany  alone,  but  of  continental  Europe. 

MUNROE   SMITH. 


PREFACE. 


THIS  is  the  first  attempt,  by  an  English  writer,  to 
place  before  his  countrymen  a  complete  historical 
sketch  of  the  career  of  the  great  German  states- 
man who  will  occupy  such  a  conspicuous  place  in 
the  annals  of  the  Nineteenth  Century.  British 
and  American  readers  have  from  time  to  time  been 
supplied  with  various  translations  from  the  German, 
dealing  with  isolated  sections  and  phases  of  the  work 
and  character  of  Prince  Bismarck ;  but  they  have 
hitherto  been  without  a  connected  and  elaborate  ac- 
count of  his  whole  career  from  a  purely  English  point 
of  view,  and  these  volumes  are  intended  to  supply 
this  much-felt  want.  Aiming,  as  they  do,  at  recording 
in  as  complete  a  manner  as  possible  the  personal 
achievements  of  the  greatest  man  of  the  age,  they  at 
the  same  time  claim  to  'be  regarded  as  a  Political 
History  of  Modern  Germany — in  so  far  as  that 
History  can  be  written  without  materials  which  the 
hiture  alone  can  disclose. 

It  is  hoped   that  not  the  least  useful  portion  of 


xvi  PREFACE. 

this  work  will  be  found  to  be  translations  of  tbe 
Prussian  and  Imperial  Constitutions,  which  we  have 
included  in  the  Appendix  of  Treaties  that  mark  the 
several  stages  of  development  in  the  national  unity 
of  Germany.  If  Englishmen  would  but  turn  to  these 
documents  when  any  constitutional  controversy  is 
agitating  the  Parliaments  of  Berlin,  they  would  at 
once  perceive  on  which  side  lay  the  balance  of  right 
and  wrong. 

The  portrait  of  the  Chancellor,  which  forms  the 
frontispiece  to  the  first  volume,  is  from  a  photo- 
graph taken  on  the  eve  of  his  seventieth  birthday ; 
and  it  is  generally  admitted  that  no  more  character- 
istic likeness  of  the  Prince  has  ever  been  produced 
by  a  similar  process  of  art. 

The  author  of  this  work  will  feel  that  his  labour 
has  been  richly  rewarded  should  it  enable  his  country- 
men to  acquire  a  clearer  understanding  of  that  great 
and  noble  Teutonic  nation,  whose  political  unification 
has  stamped  the  Nineteenth  Century  with  its  specific 
historical  character;  and  whose  origin,  aspirations,  and 
interests  alike  fit  it  to  be  the  friend  and  ally  of  the 
English  people  as  the  vanguard  in  the  march  of 

civilisation. 

C.  L, 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER  I. 

YOUTH  AND  EARLY  MANHOOD. 

PAG« 

Stendal — Social  standing  of  the  Bismarcks — Schonhausen :  birthtime  of 
Bismarck — Origin  of  the  name  Bismarck — The  Bismarcks  in  the  14th 
century — Bismarckian  "Dugald  Dalgetties" — A  soldiering  Nimrod — 
A  sentimental  ancestor  —  Bismarck's  father  —  Bismarck's  mother — 
Ancestry  and  heredity — Bismarck's  brother  and  sister — His  infancy — 
At  school — Studies — Fondness  for  sports — A  Pomeranian  Centaur — At 
the  University— Wild  student  days — Duelling — A  companion — J.  L. 
Motley — Signs  of  the  times — A  wager — Passing  examinations — Law- 
reportership — A  dancing  diplomatist — Bismarck  and  the  Prince  of 
Prussia — Referendary  at  Aix-la-Chapelle — As  a  soldier — Out  in  the 
wilderness — A  memorable  spectacle — Resemblance  to  Oliver  Cromwell 
— "Mad  Bismarck" — Spirits  and  Spinoza — Bismarck's  first  medal — 
Worldly  prospects — An  audacious  Junker — In  doubt  as  to  his  career — 
In  England — Holiday  amusements — At  sea — Public  and  private  events 
— He  must  marry — The  lady  of  his  choice — Elected  to  the  Landtag — 
Personal  appearance 1 


CHAPTER  II. 

PARLIAMENTARY      CAREER. 
1. — Prussian  Constitutionalism. 

As  a  Parliamentary  Deputy — Divine  right  in  Prussia — The  Kings  of  Prussia 
— The  Liberation  War — Emancipation  Edict  of  Frederick  William  III. 
— Delusive  promise  of  a  Prussian  Constitution — A  faithless  King — 
Frederick  William  IV.— The  United  Diet— Functions  of  the  Diet- 
Opening  of  the  Diet — "  Plus  royalist e  que  le  roi" — Bismarck  as  a  speaker 
— His  first  vote — His  theory  of  the  Liberation  War — England  and 
Prussia  compared — Opposes  the  emancipation  of  the  Jews — Breaking 
up  of  the  Diet — Bismarck  on  his  wedding  trip — A  Lochiel-like  warning 
— Political  volcanoes — Anarchy  in  Berlin — The  March  Revolution — The 
Czar's  "poet-brother" — Bismarck's  theory  of  the  Revolution— Sove- 
reignty of  the  people — The  second  United  Diet — Prussia's  foreign  policy 
— The  "  Jena  of  the  Prussian  nobility  " — The  Constituent  Assembly — 
Why  not  a  whiff  of  grape-shot  ? — Opposing  the  Revolution — Bismarck 
as  a  journalist — A  political  conversion — Promise  and  performance — 
—The  Royal  right  of  pardon — Anecdotes — Comparative  constitu- 


xviii  CONTENTS. 

PA0B 

tionalism — The  danger  of  majorities— The  ballot-box  a  dice-box— A 
hereditary  Chamber — The  Prussian  Army — Prussian  to  the  backbone — 
Proud  of  being  a  "  Junker  " 41 

(TFT AFTER   HI. 

PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER   (continued). 
2.— The  German  Question. 

A  deputation  from  Frankfort — Germany's  struggles  for  political  cohesion — 
The  Revolution  of  1848 — A  German  Parliament — "Grand  Germans" 
and  "  Petty  Germans  " — A  Magna  Charta  on  blotting-paper — An  Em- 
peror of  Germany  elect— Frederick  William  IV.  refuses  the  Imperial 
Crown — "  Never,  never,  never !  " — Bismarck  on  the  Frankfort  Consti- 
tution—The Revolution  and  the  Unity  movement— The  Tri-Regal 
Alliance — "  Beware  of  a  quarrel  for  the  Kaiser's  beard !  '* — Prussian,  not 
German — An  " Interim  Arrangement" — A  Quadruple  Alliance,  and  the 
tailors  of  Tooley  Street — Bismarck  and  Luther :  a  strange  coincidence 
— Neither  Federation  nor  flummery — The  Erfurt  Parliament  and  the 
"  fiery  fox-hunter  " — The  ravens  of  the  Kyffhauser — A  Prussian  Buce- 
phalus— The  constitutional  Delilah  and  the  monarchical  Samson — Bis- 
marck a  modern  Khalif  Omar— End  of  the  Erfurt  "  tongue-tournament " 
— Germany  under  two  rulers — Consequences  of  a  "  revolution  in  slippers 
and  dressing-gown" — "I  shall  fire  on  the  first  who  fires!" — Olmiitz, 
1850— A  political  Saul  of  Tarsus — The  defender  of  Qlmutz— And  the 
friend  of  Austria — Shelving  of  the  German  question — Bismarck  a  Privy 
Councillor  of  Legation— His  diplomatic  stock-in-trade  .  .  .  .83 

CHAPTER  IV. 

DIPLOMATIC    CAREER. 
1.— At  Frankfort. 

Constitution  and  character  of  the  Germanic  Diet— A  "diplomatic  suckling" 
— Bismarck  as  a  portrait- painter — His  Austrian  colleagues — Diplomatic 
life  at  Frankfort — Bismarck's  relations  to  his  Chief — His  Chief's  opinion 
of  Bismarck — Bismarck  and  the  Prince  of  Prussia — Bismarck  meets 
Mettemich — The  genius  of  the  past,  and  the  man  of  the  future — Bis- 
marck's early  letters — A  personal  mosaic — Count  Thun — Bismarck's  cure 
for  incivility — Austria  and  Prussia — Bismarck's  Frankfort  despatches — 
The  Pope  and  the  Devil — Schwarzenberg — A  ribald  print — The  police 
of  Frankfort  and  Berlin — A  Press  feud — Letter-opening  and  its  conse- 
quences— A  gallery  of  diplomatic  portraits — Count  Montessuy — Prince 
Gortchakoff — Bismarck  a  bigger  man  than  a  Grand  Duke — Bismarck 
and  Heir  von  Dalwigk — "  Tu  Vas  voulu  Georges  Dandin  !  " —  Grand-ducal 
notions  of  diplomacy — A  conspirator-like  meeting  in  a  wood—"  Helium 
civile  "  between  Hesse  and  Prussia — Bismarck's  theory  of  decorations — 
Austria's  domination  of  the  Diet — Prussian  grievances  and  warnings 
— Austrian  "sin-register" — Bismarck  and  Louis  Napoleon — "  Pas  une 
Contre- Revolution,  mais  le  contraire  de  la  Revolution  " — Freedom  of  the 
German  Press — German  democracy — Bismarck  champions  constitu- 
tionalism— Alarming  collapse  of  a  lappe  statesman — Bismarck  loves 
/not  the  Jews,  but  hates  the  Austrians  more — His  views  of  England  as 
/  an  asylum  for  political  refugees — The  National  Fleet  question — A  warn- 
ing to  the  Rothschilds  — " O  Diet,  thou  hound,  thou  art  not  sound!" 
—Bismarck  and  the  Bremen  apothecary — Prussia  and  the  "  war-lot. 


CONTENTS.  xix 


tery"  —  The  commercial  leadership  of  Germany  —  The  Customs-Union 
question  —  Bismarck  "  bosses  "  the  Press  —  The  "  Darmstadt  Coalition" 

—  Bismarck  in  Vienna  ;  Windischgratz,  Bach,  and  Buol—  Bismarck  and 
Francis  Joseph—  A  Prussian  Fabricius—  A  Prussian  victory,  without  a 
Parthian  shot  —  Bismarck  astounds  the  French  ambassador  —  The  "heavy- 
bottomed"  Dutch   and  the   practical  Prussians  —  Birth-  throes  of  the 
European  Concert  —  Prussia  and  the  Eastern  Question  —  Prussia  will  be 
neither  coerced  nor  cajoled  —  Bismarck's  personal  influence  on  Prussian 
policy  —  German  proselytes  to  Prussia  —  Bismarck  silences  the  King  of 
the  Belgians  —  "  Scare-crow  arguments"  cannot  frighten  him  —  Prussia 
and  the  Crimean  War  —  Bismarck  saves  Sir  Alexander  Malet  —  Bis- 
marck is  presented  to  Queen  Victoria  and  Napoleon  —  Prussia  and  the 
Congress  of  Paris  —  Bismarck  counsels  a  Franco-Prussian  alliance  —  An 
ominous  incident  —  A  genuflecting  "  troupe  au  "  —  Prussia  and  Neuchatel 

—  A  runaway  province  —  Berne  defies  Berlin  —  Austria  thwarts  the  war- 
like plans  of  Prussia  —  Bismarck's  courage  is  tempered  with  caution  — 
Bismarck  in  Paris  (1857)  —  He  puts  his  pride  for  once  in  his  pocket 

—  A  nail  in  the  coffin  of  Frederick  William  —  Bismarck  more  Danish 
than  the  Danes  —  First  experience  as  an  "honest  broker"  —  The  Elbe 
Duchies  and  two    international  agreements  —  Prussia  champions  the 
integrity  of  Denmark  —  Napoleon  and  the  Schleswig-Holstein  Question 

—  Triumph  of  Bismarck's  policy  —  Scope  and  meaning  of  his  policy  — 
Appointed  Minister  at  St.  Petersburg  —  Bismarck  gives  his  arm  to  the 
Sardinian  Envoy  —  Napoleon  expresses  the  thoughts  of  Bismarck  —  Bis- 
marck the  supporter  of  France  —  The  sworn  foe  of  Austria  —  Bismarck 
fails  to  breast  the  stream  of  the  time  —  He  therefore  writes  a  "Little 
Book  "  —  And  prescribes  a  remedy  of  "  Fire  and  Sword  !  "      .        .        .117 

CHAPTER  V. 

DIPLOMATIC  CAREER  (continued). 
2.  At  St.  Petersburg  and  Paris. 

En  route  to  St.  Petersburg  —  A  Russian  view  of  Bismarck  —  A  Court  favourite 

—  The  Empress  Dowager—  Bismarck  and  the  Czar  —  In  Poland—  Hunt- 
ing  —  Bad   health—  Daily  habits—  Functions  and    mode  of    life—  The 
"  natural  philosopher  "  and  the  Italian  war—  Moscow  and  Magenta  — 
Solferino  —  Prussia's  policy  —  Bismarck's  opinion  of  it  —  Hamlet-like 
reflections  —  Villafranca  and  its  meaning  —  Bismarck  the  alleged  accom- 
plice of  Napoleon  —  Napoleon  at  Baden  —  The  Teplitz  interview  —  The 
Warsaw  meeting  ;  Bismarck  and  the  Prince  of  Hohenzollern  —  William 
I.  —  Bismarck  on  the  German  Question  —  At  the  coronation  of  King 
William  —  Military  reform  —  Wanted    a    "Parliament-tamer"  —  The 

,"  sickly  circus-  rider"  —  Minister  at  Paris  —  Experiences  on  the  Seine  — 
Visit  to  London  —  Bismarck,  Palmerston,  and  Disraeli  —  A  swallow's 
summer—  A  Legitimist  tear—"  In  the  Bay  of  Biscay,  0  !  "  —  Among  the 
Pyrenees  —  An  electric  spark  and  a  dissolving  view  —  A  parliamentary 
vote  and  a  ministerial  appointment—  Farewell  to  Napoleon  ;  the  "  fate 
of  Polignac  "  —  "  You*  vous  embourberiez  !  "  —  The  fervour  of  a  Mahomet  .  240 

CHAPTER  VT. 

THE     "  CONFLICT  -  TIME." 

"L—With  the  Chamber  and  Denmark. 

"  Who  is  Heir  von  Bismarck  ?  "  —  King  William's  military  schemes— 
"  Blood  and  Iron  "  —  Conflict  between  Crown  and  Chamber  —  Was  Bis- 
marck a  Straff  ord  P  —  His  own  view  of  the  Conflict—  What  will  History 


CONTENTS. 

PAOl 

say  ? — His  demeanour  in  the  Chamber — Character  of  Prussian  Minis- 
ters— Bockum-Dolffs  and  his  over-sized  hat — Despotic  measures — Bis- 
marck the  best-hated  man  in  Europe — His  foreign  policy — Doctoring 
a  Hessian  despot — The  Feldjdger  nach  Kurhessen — The  Polish  Insur- 
rection of  1863 — Bismarck  proposes  measures  for  its  extinction — The 
February  Convention — Poland  the  "Ireland"  of  Prussia— Opposition 
to  Bismarck's  Polish  policy  in  Russia  itself — And  also  in  England 
and  France — Lord  John  Russell  burns  his  fingers — Bismarck  pours 
cold  water  on  Eiiglish'«nthusiasm — The  Polish  Rebellion  is  quenched  in 
blood — Considerations  suggested  by  Bismarck's  Polish  policy — Bismarck 
conciliates  France  with  a  favourable  Commercial  Treaty — Bismarck 
gives  a  warning  to  Austria — Austria's  "  Delegate  Scheme"  and  its  fate — 
A  Congress  of  German  Princes  without  the  King  of  Prussia — "  Frank- 
fort windbaggery" — Its  nature — Prussia  is  placed  before  an  implied 
alternative,  and  mutters  something  about  a  casus  belli — Death  of  the 
King  of  Denmark  and  its  consequences — Bismarck's  "diplomatic 
masterpiece  " — The  Schleswig-Holstein  Question — Two  opposing  ten- 
dencies in  the  Elbe  Duchies— The  Treaty  of  London  (1852)— Unjust 
"  Danification "  of  the  Duchies — A  rival  claimant  to  the  Duchies — 
Bismarck  checks  the  enthusiasm  of  his  countrymen  for  the  Prince 
of  Augustenburg's  cause — "  Launcelot  Gobbo "  and  "  Samson  Agon- 
istes " — The  Diet  decrees  execution  in  Holstein,  but  declines  to 
interfere  in  Schleswig — How  Bismarck  viewed  the  question  of  both 
Duchies — The  Chamber  refuses  him  supplies  to  carry  out  his  Schles- 
wig-Holstein policy — Austria  and  Prussia  advance  hand  in  hand — Why 
Austria  did  so — War  with  Denmark — Opposition  to  it  in  Germany — 
English  threat  of  foreign  intervention — Inconsistencies  of  the  British 
character — Bismarck  disdains  the  "cajolery  and  menaces"  of  England 
— The  Capture  of  Diippel  influences  Danish  (and  foreign)  diplomacy 
—Bismarck  at  last  repudiates  the  Treaty  of  London — The  Conference 
of  London— And  the  Treaty  of  Vienna 287 


CHAPTER  VIL 

THE   "  CONFLICT  -  TIME  "   (continued). 
2. — With  the  Chamber  and  Austria. 

Business  and  pleasure — Fasolt  and  Fafner,  the  Giant  Brothers — JBeati  pot- 
*irf£ttte«— Saxony  and  Hanover  get  notice  to  quit  Holstein — Disagree- 
ment of  the  Giant  Brothers — Bismarck  and  the  Prince  of  Augusten- 
burg — The  Giant  Brothers  try  to,  but  cannot  agree — A  last  desperate 
effort  to  keep  the  peace — The  Convention  of  Gastein  (August,  1865) — 
What  Europe  thought  of  it — Bismarck  and  Napoleon  at  Biarritz — 
Continued  conflict  with  the  Chamber ;  character  of  its  leading  members 
— Bismarck  challenges  Professor  Virchow — ••"  Impotent  negation  " — 
Bismarck  is  shot  at  by  Ferdinand  Blind — The  divided  spoil — Bad  out- 
look for  the  Augustenburg  Pretender — The  quarrel  ripens—  The  "  clink 
of  hammers  closing  rivets  up  " — Questions  and  answers — Violent  scene 
of  altercation  between  the  Giant  Brothers — Italy  and  Prussia — France 
and  Prussia — Napoleon's  aims — "  Which  of  us  shall  fire  the  powder  ?  " 
— King  William's  scruples — The  Prussian  Giant  at  last  seizes  all  the 
spoil — The  Giant  Brothers  stand  up  to  fight — The  Prussian  eagle  and 
the  German  hawks — Hesse  and  Hanover  hors  de  combat — Moltke's 
strategy — Plan  of  the  campaign— Bismarck  is  for  once  in  his  life 
theatrical,  and  leaves  for  the  seat  of  war — The  eve  of  Koniggratz 
— The  battle — Incidents  of  the  battle  as  described  by  Bismarck — 


CONTENTS. 


xxi 


Results  of  the  battle — Paris  bursts  out  into  flags— Napoleon  offers 
himself  as  a  "  dishonest  broker  " — Bismarck  parleys  with  Napoleon — 
Benedetti  appears  on  the  scene — Bismarck  diplomatises  with  the  French 
ambassador— Peace  Preliminaries  of  Nicolsburg — Saxony  spared — 
Prussia's  gains — Punishment  of  the  Southern  States — A  dramatic  in- 
cident— Napoleon  reviews  the  situation  and  changes  front — A  Bill  of 
Indemnity — Triumphal  entry  into  Berlin — Palmam  qui  meruitferat  !  .  339 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

THE  NORTH  GERMAN  CONFEDERATION. 

Tho  first  North  German  Parliament— The  Federal  Constitution— Home-Eule 
in  Germany — Parliamentary  parties — The  National  Liberals  and  the 
Progressists;  Bennigsen  and  Lasker — Germany  "in  the  saddle;"  Bis- 
marck and  Harry  Hotspur — Constitutional  changes — The  Gaul  in  the 
garb  of  a  beggar,  with  the  eye  of  a  robber — An  Imperial  burglar  and 
his  treatment — Napoleon's  policy  of  compensation — The  Benedetti 
Treaty — "Bismarck  was  the  author,  though  I  was  the  writer  " — Luxem- 
burg the  road  to  Brussels — The  Luxemburg  Question — "Will  you?" 
"Well,  I  will  not  say  'No!'"— The  Hague  and  Paris  speak;  Berlin 
acts — The  King  of  Holland  in  a  fix — Premature  paeans  of  the  French 
— A  Parliamentary  storm  in  Germany — What  did  it  all  mean  ? — Dog- 
ged cautiousness  of  the  Dutch — Napoleon,  like  Macbeth,  is  irresolute  — 
But,  like  lago,  he  is  resourceful — The  "  Iron  Count " — Bismarck  and 
Von  der  Goltz — War-signs — Bismarck  accepts  a  Conference — And  why  ? 
Beust  declines  Bismarck's  offers  of  alliance — The  Luxemburg  Confer- 
ence (London,  1867) — The  courtesies  of  a  truce — "  Afraid  of  assassins? 
No,  not  I ! " — Bismarck  in  Paris ;  Berezowski  and  the  Czar — "  Adieu, 
but  au  revoir !  " —  Bismarck,  Beust,  and  Napoleon — France  and  the 
Treaty  of  Prague — The  Customs- Parliament,  and  the  "  waters  of  the 
Red  Sea" — Napoleon  inspires  Denmark — Dialogue  between  Copen- 
hagen and  Berlin — The  official  trumpeter  of  France  blows  a  retreat — 
Napoleon  in  South  Germany;  meets  Francis  Joseph  at  Salzburg — 
Explanations  and  effect  of  the  Salzburg  interview — Baden  knocks  in 
vain  at  the  door  of  the  North — Attitude  of  the  South  to  the  unity  move- 
ment— " Aut  Caesar,  aut  Nihil!" — "Fear  finds  no  echo  in  German 
hearts" — "The  blossoms  of  spring" — A  waiting  policy — Domestic 
labours — Hanover  and  her  dethroned  King — Prussia's  "unparalleled 
magnanimity" — The  Hanoverian  Legion — Anti- Prussian  intrigues  of 
King  George — Prussia  tries  sequestration  instead  of  "magnanimity" — 
The  "Reptile  Fund" — Bismarck  conciliates  Hanover  with  Home-Rule 
— and  estranges  the  Conservatives — The  Conservative  Scylla  and  the 
Liberal  Charybdis — A  Liberal  bait  to  the  Separatist  South — Free- 
dom of  Parliamentary  speech — Bismarck  resists  constitutional  en- 
croachments— And  brings  the  Liberals  to  their  senses— The  "one- 
man  power"  in  politics— Bismarck  a  "one-man  Ministry" — The 
advocate  of  capital  punishment — Progress  of  national  unification — 
Foreign  policy — Moltke  makes  a  prophecy — Bismarck  and  the  Cretan 
insurrection  —  The  Roman  Question  —  Prussia's  attitude  to  it  —  M. 
Rouher's  "jamais  /" — Bismarck  declines  a  Conference,  and  why — Two 
birds  in  the  hand  worth  one  in  the  bush — Ambiguous  attitude  of 
Napoleon — Public  opinion  in  France — A  nightmare  of  European  Ques- 
tions— Mutual  espionage — Waiting  and  watching — Disarmament  out  of 
the  question — The  faith  that  removes  mountains — Germany  subsidises 
the  St.  Gothard  Tunnel — On  the  brink  of  the  precipice,  but  not  over  it .  413 


CONTENTS. 
CHAPTER  IX. 

THE   FRANCO-GERMAN   WAR. 

bolt  out  of  the  blue — Bismarck  in  Ems — King  "William  and  the 
Czar — Causes  of  the  Franco-German  war  ;  isolation  of  France — The 
Crown  of  Spain — A  threat  of  war — Prince  Leopold  of  Hohenzollern — 
French  objection  to  his  candidature — Was  the  candidature  an  intrigue 
of  Bismarck  ? — Its  origin  and  history — Fury  of  'the  French — The  war- 
prelude  at  Ems;  King  William  and  M.  Benedetti — The  rupture — 
Bismarck's  ecstatic  sword-flourish — Excitement  in  Berlin — Indigna- 
tion at  Paris — Bismarck's  divulgence  of  the  Ems  incident — A  railway- 
carriage  Council  of  State — Universal  uprising  of  the  German  people — 
Bismarck  explains  the  state  of  matters  to  the  nation — The  declaration 
of  war — Diplomatic  revelations — Vain  attempts  at  mediation — Bismarck 
and  Moltke  brighten  up — The  Foreign  Office  "mobilised" — Bismarck's 
habits  in  the  tented  field — France  crushed  in  a  month — Military 
plan  of  the  campaign — The  first  battles — Bismarck  studies  Moltke' s 
strategy — Mars-la-Tour — Bismarck  searches  for  his  soldier-sons — 
Gravelotte — A  new  strategical  problem  —  "  Le  langage  de  M.  de  Bis- 
marck " — Past  and  present — Hardships  of  the  campaign — MacMahon's 
dilemma — A  splendid  strategic  advance — The  "  wolf  "  at  bay— Sedan 
— An  historic  moment — Napoleon  and  his  army  captive — Negotiations 
for  capitulation — Bismarck's  interview  with  Napoleon — An  unparalleled 
capitulation — King  William  meets  his  Imperial  captive — The  Chancellor 
finds  his  son — A  royal  toast — Joy  in  the  Fatherland — "  Vorwarts,  immer 
vorwarts!" — French  defiance— German  peace  conditions — Bismarck  at 
Rheims— At  Rothschild's  chateau  (Ferrieres) — 1856-1870,  a  contrast — 
A  faithful  but  inhospitable  steward— The  French  sound  a  parley — 
Meeting  between  Bismarck  and  Jules  Favre — An  armistice  discussed — 
M.  Thiers  vainly  appeals  to  Europe — The  march  of  military  events — 
Paris  in  a  German  strait-jacket — Bismarck  at  Versailles — French 
opinion  of  the  Chancellor — The  Chancellor's  opinion  of  the  French — 
Francs-tireurs — Bismarck's  search  for  a  French  Government— General 
Boyer's  mission — Negotiations  with  the  Bonapartists — Fall  of  Metz — 
Bismarck  offers  an  armistice ;  a  "  Bedlam  of  monkeys  " — Lord  Gran- 
ville  intercedes,  in  vain,  for  beleaguered  Paris — M.  Thiers  treats  with 
Bismarck,  to  no  purpose — Resistance  to  the  knife — The  Black  Sea 
Clause — "Do  ttt  des" — Germany  offended  with  England — Bismarck 
argues  with  Mr.  Odo  Russell — And  smiles  at  the  covert  threats  of 
Lord  Granville — A  coroner's  inquest  on  a  murdered  Treaty — Progress 
of  German  unity — The  South  at  last  knocks  at  the  door  of  the  North 
— Conditions  of  union — Germany  united — "  Farcimen  vel  farciinen- 
tum  ?  " — Proclamation  of  the  Empire — The  proudest  day  of  Bismarck's 
life — Paris  bombarded — How  the  Chancellor  defeated  the  calculations 
of  the  besieged — Paris  makes  a  last  desperate  effort — How  Bismarck 
checkmated  Favre — In  at  the  death — Favre  and  his  co-negotiator — 
A  truce  concluded — The  last  shot — The  French  elections — Bismarck 
and  Gambetta — M.  Thiers  negotiates  peace  with  the  Chancellor — Reap- 
ing the  whirlwind — "  (Test  une  spoliation  veritable  !  " — A  dramatic  inter- 
view—The Preliminaries  of  Peace— Triumphal  entry  into  Paris,  and 
return  to  Berlin 498 


PRINCE    BISMARCK. 

CHAPTER  I. 

YOUTH  AND  EARLY  MANHOOD. 

FROM  Cologne  to  Berlin,  by  way  of  Hanover,  the  last 
stoppage  but  one  made  by  the  express  traveller  is  at 
Stendal,  the  capital  of  the  Old  Mark,  a  walled  and 
moated  city  which  once  belonged  to  the  Hansa  League, 
and  was  the  residence  of  the  Margraves  of  Brandenburg. 
A  statue  in  one  of  the  squares  in  Stendal  reminds  the 
visitor  that  Winckelmann,  the  "  eloquent  expounder  of 
ancient  art,"  first  drew  breath  in  this  quaint  old  city, 
but  the  ancestors  of  a  greater  than  Winckelmann  once 
also  trod  its  ancient  streets.  A  few  minutes  after 
leaving  Stendal  on  the  left,  the  engine  will  "  slow " 
before  crossing  the  iron  bridge  that  spans  the  winding 
Elbe ;  and  if  then  the  traveller  keeps  a  look-out  on  the 
other  side  of  the  stream  before  the  train 
has  long  recovered  its  normal  speed,  he 
will  notice  on  the  right,  at  less  than  a  mile  from  the 
line,  a  compact  little  townlet  with  red-tiled  roofs 
clustering  around  a  square,  brick-built,  and  daw- 
frequented  church-belfry.  The  country  all  round  is 

B 


2  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

comparatively  woodless,  flat,  and  liable  to  inundation, 
with  here  and  there  a  windmill  ;  and  away  to  the 
south-west  over  the  bare  meadow-land,  on  the  further 
bank  of  the  Elbe,  rise  the  ancient  towers  of  Tanger- 
miinde,  where  the  powerful  Charles  IV.  once  held  his 
Imperial  court. 

Now  this  village,  like  most  others  in  North  Ger- 

many,  is   nothing    in  the  main  but  a  conglomeration 

of   small,    self-owned    farms,    or    peasant- 

social  stand-  •    i        i  •  /  -n  n 

proprietorships     (Bauer  guter).       All    these 


little  farmsteads  look  monotonously  alike, 
but  cheek  by  jowl  with  the  village  church  there  stands 
a  more  pretentious  mansion,  which  might  very  well 
pass  for  the  parsonage  save  for  the  barn-yard  litter 
all  around,  the  rows  of  unyoked  wains,  surly  mastiffs, 
cackling  poultry,  and  well-  scoured  milk-pails  put  out 
to  drip.  A  large,  wall-enclosed  orchard,  boasting  a 
pond  and  a  few  classical  statues,  surrounds  this  mansion, 
which  we  immediately  perceive  to  be  the  homestead, 
not  of  a  Bauer  gut,  or  peasant-  holding,  but  of  a  Eittergut, 
or  knight's  fee;  and  we  further  conclude  at  a  glance 
that  its  owner,  despite  names,  must  be  less  of  a 
country  gentleman  than  a  gentleman-farmer  ;  a  man, 
in  fact,  of  about  precisely  the  same  social  standing  as 
Oliver  Cromwell  when  he  went  to  St.  Ives  to  drain 
the  fens  and  pasture  cattle. 

This,  then,  is  the  village  of  Schonhausen  (Fairhouse) 
in  the  arrondissement  of  Jerichow,  Department  of 
Magdeburg,  and  Province  of  Prussian  Saxony  ;  and  it 
was  in  this  mansion  that  Otto  Edward  Leopold  von 


YOUTH  AND  EARLY  MANHOOD.          3 

Bismarck,  the  Unifier  of  Germany,  was  born  on  the  1st 
of  April,   1815.      The   Emperor  William  was  then  a 
delicate  stripling  of  eighteen  who,  not  long 
returned  in  triumph  to  Berlin  from  capitu-     bfrthtimeao?  ' 

Bismarck. 

lated  Paris,  was  busy  conning  his  catechism 
for  confirmation  ;  while  in  the  Tuileries  Napoleon,  es- 
caped from  Elba,  and  again  surrounded  by  his  adoring 
generals,  was  exerting  himself  like  a  giant  to  organise 
a  force  capable  of  crushing  United  Europe.  Little, 
certainly,  did  the  Satanic  Corsican  then  think  that  far 
away  in  an  obscure  northern  hamlet  a  man-child  had  on 
that  1st  of  April  been  born,  endowed  with  the  power 
of  building  up  again  what  he  had  cast  down,  and  of 
shivering  his  upstart  dynasty  to  atoms.  Before,  how- 
ever, proceeding  to  trace  the  career  of  this  gifted 
man,  let  us  devote  a  few  words  to  his  ancestors, 
who,  if  there  be  any  truth  in  the  principle  of  heredity, 
must  also  have  been  remarkable  men. 

The  estate  of  Schonhausen,  on  which  he  was  born, 
had  been  for  several  generations  in  the  possession  of  his 
forefathers,  who  belonged  to  one  of  the 


oldest  and  lovalest  families  in  the  Old  Mark     nBis- 

marck. 

of  Brandenburg,  the  centre  and  seed-germ 
of  the  present  kingdom  of  Prussia.  There  has  been 
much  philological  controversy  as  to  the  origin  of  the 
name  Bismarck,  which  is  now  common  enough  among 
the  Prussian  gentry,  occurring  as  it  does  in  the  Army 
List  alone  twenty-four  times  ;  but  there  can  be  little 
doubt  that  it  is  derived  from  the  old  fortress-tower  and 
townlet  of  Biemark  (thus  spelt),  which  still  stands  not  far 
B  2 


4  PRINCE   BISMAROK. 

from  Stendal,  in  the  very  centre  almost  of  the  Old  Mark. 
On  the  other  hand,  this  fortalice  of  Bismark  was  plainly 
so  called  from  the  fact  of  its  heing  the  stronghold  of  the 
Mark,  or  March,  on  the  Biese,  a  stream  constituting  the 
strategic  line  of  defence  in  those  parts ;  so  that  the 
territorial  origin  of  Bismarck's  name,  like  that  of  his 
great  compatriot,  Freiherr  yom  Stein,  can  admit  of  little 
doubt. 

But,  whatever  the  origin  of  their  name,  and  whether 
of  purely  German  or  Slavonic  extraction,  we  will  not 
seek  to  climb  the  genealogical  tree  of  the  Bismarcks 
higher  than  their  first  recorded  appearance  in  history 
about  the  beginning  of  the  1 4th  century, 
marcks  in  the  when  we  read  of  some  of  them  as  warrior- 

14th  century. 

knights  engaged  in  driving  back  the  in- 
vading Wends,  or  Vandals,  towards  the  Oder,  and  of 
others  following  civic  occupations  at  Stendal,  and  nego- 
tiating with  princely  courts  for  their  Hansa  city.  In 
particular,  one  Rule,  E-ulo,  or  Rudolph  Bismarck,  is 
mentioned  in  the  municipal  records  between  1309  and 
1338  as  a  respected  member  of  the  guild  of  tailors,  and 
as  already  manifesting  the  peculiar  qualities  of  his  race 
by  carrying  on  a  kind  of  "  Kulturkampf "  against  the 
local  Church  powers  of  despotism  and  darkness.  His  son 
and  successor,  too,  Glaus  or  Nicolaus,  while  heading  the 
patrician  against  the  democratic  element  of  the  place,  is 
also  said  to  have  foreshadowed  the  constructive  genius 
of  his  great  descendant  by  assisting  the  Bavarian  Mar- 
grave to  unite  the  various  Marks  of  Brandenburg  under 
one  government. 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  5 

It  would  be  sheer  waste  of  time  to  follow  tlie 
biographers  in  their  attempts  to  determine  whether 
the  merchant  Bismarcks  of  Stendal  were  noble  or  not ; 
suffice  it  to  say  that  the  aforesaid  Glaus  Bismarck  was, 
for  distinguished  services  in  1345,  made  custodian  of 
Burgstall,  a  forest- surrounded  feudal  keep  on  the  banks 
of  the  Tanger ;  that  he  died  as  Nicolaus  de  Bismarck 
Miles  ;  and  that  his  descendants,  many  of  them  re- 
nowned in  their  various  peaceful  and  warlike  occupa- 
tions, continued  to  hold  the  knight's  fee  thus  granted 
them  for  more  than  two  centuries,  when  loyal  unwilling- 
ness to  offend  an  Elector  who  coveted  their  splendid 
hunting-grounds  induced  the  family  to  exchange  their 
property  for  other  lands  of  far  less  value,  the  younger 
branch  taking  Schonhausen.  The  extensive  forest  of 
Letzlingen,  near  Magdeburg,  is  now  the  finest  demesne 
of  the  Crown  of  Prussia ;  and  when  the  Chancellor  is 
invited  by  the  Emperor  William  to  slaughter  deer  in 
its  leafy  glades,  he  is  really  asked  to  hunt  in  the  game 
preserves  of  his  own  ancestors. 

The  Schonhausen  line  of  Bismarcks,  a  very  prolific 
race,  has  produced  several  distinguished  soldiers,  and 
not  a  few  diplomatists,  some  of  them,  it 

p    it          T\          11       -r\    i  Bismarckian 

is  true,  or  the  Dugald  Dalgetty  stamp,  "DiigaidDai- 
though  none  seem  to  have  been  wanting 
in  character  and  talents.  Thus  we  hear  of  a  Captain 
Ludolph  von  Bismarck,  who  served  against  the 
Turks  under  the  Elector  of  Saxony  in  1560;  and  of 
Ludolf  August,  who  had  a  very  stormy  and  adventurous 
career.  Lying  in  garrison  at  Magdeburg,  he  slew  his 


6  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

servant  in  drink  or  anger,  and  fled.  But  though 
pardoned  for  desertion  he  was  not  promoted,  so  leaving 
the  Prussian  service  in  disgust  he  repaired  to  Russia, 
and  for  complication  in  some  court  intrigues  was 
banished  to  Siberia.  Thence  recalled  by  the  influence 
of  his  friends,  he  was  entrusted,  among  other  tasks  of 
the  kind,  with  a  diplomatic  mission  to  London  ;  and  he 
finally  ended  his  days  at  Pultawa.  Another  member, 
too,  of  the  Schonhausen  family  was  destined  to  visit 
Russia  in  a  very  honourable  capacity,  before  its  present 
chief  went  there  in  1859  as  Minister  of  the  King  of 
Prussia,  in  the  person  of  General  Frederick  William  von 
Bismarck,  who  served  in  Brunswick,  in  England  (where 
he  had  a  duel),  and  lastly  in  Wiirtemberg,  and  was 
thought  so  much  of  as  a  cavalry  critic  that  the  Emperor 
Nicholas  summoned  him  to  St.  Petersburg  in  1835  to 
reorganise  his  Horse.  During  the  campaign  of  1870  the 
Chancellor  boasted  that  since  the  Huguenot  wars  there 
was  not  one  of  his  ancestors  who  had  not  drawn  the 
sword  at  some  time  or  other  against  France,  either  as 
mercenaries  in  the  cause  of  religious  liberty,  or  as 
patriots  in  that  of  political  freedom ;  while  several  of 
them  had  also  served  in  the  Thirty  Years  War,  both  for 
and  against  the  Emperor.* 

*  Dr.  Busch  records  that  once  during  the  Franco- Germ  an  war  the 

Chancellor  said  : — "  Since  the  battle  at (I  could  not  catch  the  name, 

but  it  was  some  battle  during  the  wars  of  the  Huguenots  that  appeared  to 
be  meant),  there  is  not  one  of  my  ancestors  who  has  not  drawn  the  sword 
against  France :  my  father,  for  instance,  and  three  of  his  brothers,  and 
my  grandfather  at  Rossbach.  My  great-grandfather  fought  against  Louis 
XIY.,  and  his  father  also  against  Louis  XIV.,  in  the  battles  on  the  Rhine 
in  1672  or  1673.  Seyeral  of  us  fought  in  the  Thirty  Tears  War,  on  the 


YOUTH   AND    EARLY  MANHOOD.  7 

His  great-grandfather,  August  Frederick  von  Bis- 
marck, fell  as  colonel  of  dragoons  at  Chotusitz,  on  that 
victorious  day  when,  in  the  words  of  Car-  A  80ldiering 
lyle,  Frederick's  cavalry  advanced  on  the 
Austrian  Horse,  "  first  at  a  trot,  then  a  gallop — 
with  swords  flashing  hideous,  and  eyebrows  knit." 
This  heroic  ancestor  of  the  Prince  was  a  heavy 
drinker  and  a  mighty  hunter,  having  in  one  year, 
with  his  own  hand,  slain  as  many  as  154  red-deer; 
and  the  nature  of  his  revels  may  be  inferred  from 
the  fact  that  his  toasts  were  generally  accompanied 

Emperor's  side,  and  others  for  the  Swedes.  Finally,  there  was  one  who 
was  with  the  Germans  who  fought  for  the  Huguenots  as  hired  troops. 
One  of  them — his  portrait  is  at  Schonhausen — was  an  original.  I  have  a 
letter  from  him  to  his  brother-in-law,  in  which  he  says  : — '  The  cask  of 
Rhine  wine  has  cost  me  thirty  reichsthalers.  If  my  brother-in-law  thinks 
it  too  dear,  I  will,  if  God  spares  me,  drink  every  drop  of  it  myself.' 
Then  again,  'If  my  brother-in-law  asserts  so-and-so,  I  hope  I  may, 
if  God  spares  me,  get  some  day  closer  to  him  than  he  will  like,'  and  in 
another  place  :  '  I  have  spent  12,000  reichsthalers  on  the  regiment,  and  I 
hope,  if  God  spares  me,  to  get  it  back  in  time.' "  M.  Weiss,  in  an 
article  in  the  Figaro  on  Prince  Bismarck,  states  what  is  very  curious,  if 
true,  that  his  great-great  grandfather  Augustus,  who  died  a  colonel  under 
the  Great  Elector,  was  originally  a  soldier  of  fortune  in  the  French  service 
and  helped  France  to  gain  Alsace.  The  Chancellor's  inspired  biographers 
confine  themselves  to  telling  us  vaguely  that  Augustus  Bismarck  fought 
"  for  liberty  of  conscience  "  in  the  Swedish  army,  in  the  Count  Palatine's 
regiment ;  or  that  he  entered,  after  the  battle  of  Nordlingen,  Bernard 
of  Saxe- Weimar's  corps,  and  that  up  to  1640  he  fought  in  Lorraine 
and  Burgundy.  It  was  just  after  the  Nordlingen  disaster  that  Ber- 
nard of  Saxe- Weimar  concluded  with  Richelieu  the  treaty  of  the  four 
millions.  Augustus  Bismarck  was  really  what  was  then  called  an  officer 
of  fortune  in  the  pay  of  the  King  of  France.  His  wars  and  battles  in 
Lorraine  and  Burgundy  can  only  have  been  the  retreat  from  Basse  Sarre 
on  Metz,  1634,  the  march  on  Dijon  and  St.  Jean  de  Losne,  1633;  in 
short,  the  whole  series  of  Bernard  of  Saxe- Weimar's  memorable  man- 
ceuvres,  the  final  result  of  which  was  to  make  Alsace  pass  into  the  hands 
of  France.  "  A  Bismarck  has  taken  it  from  us  ;  a  Bismarck  had  helped 
to  give  it  us," 


8  PRINOE   BISMAEOK. 

by  trumpet-blasts  and  carbine-volleys  across  the  ban- 
queting board,  from  a  section  of  his  troopers.  In- 
heriting many  points  in  the  character  of  this  stormful 
dragoon-colonel,  the  Chancellor  was  also  supposed  when 
young  to  be  his  very  image,  "  so  much  so,  indeed,  that 
when  gazing  on  his  portrait,  it  was  like  looking  at  my 
own  face  in  the  glass." 

A  broad  contrast  to  this  heavy-drinking,  soldiering 
Nimrod,  was  presented  by  his  second  son  and  succes- 
A  sentimental  sor>  Charles  Alexander,  who  cultivated  the 
muses,  read  Paris  journals,  and  published  a 
French  eulogy  of  his  deceased  wife  in  a  style  of 
romantic  sentiment  compared  with  which  the  most 
lackadaisical  effusions  of  Frederick  the  Great  would 
seem  good  taste.  But  he  was  affected  by  the  courtly 
Gallomania  of  the  time,  and  passed  for  the  intellectual 
member  of  his  line.  His  private  bent,  therefore,  was 
towards  the  civil  service  rather  than  the  army ;  *  but 
being  more  in  want  of  brave  soldiers  than  brilliant 
ministers,  Frederick  caused  him,  much  against  his  will, 
to  exchange  into  the  army.  From  this,  however,  he 
soon  retired  with  the  rank  of  Rittmeister,  or  cavalry 
captain,  and  died  in  1 797 — his  slender  estate  ultimately 
devolving  on  his  fourth  sonrCharles  William  Ferdinand, 
born  in  1771,  father  of  the  Chancellor. 

A  bright,  solid,  and  emphatic-looking  gentleman  was 
this  paternal  parent  of  the  Prince,  if  his  portrait  speaks 


*  Is  he  the  "  Herr  Minister  von  Bismarck"  mentioned  by  Carlyle  as 
having  granted  a  warrant  to  Yoltaire  for  the  arrest  of  a  swindling 
Jew? 


YOUTH   AND    EARLY  MANHOOD.  9 

true ;  but,  like  his  father,  he  grew  tired  of  lying  idly 
in  garrison  and  "  measuring  out  the  corn  to  his  men 
every  morning  at  4  o'clock  "  (he  had  only  Bismarck's 
served  in  French  Flanders  under  the  Duke  of 
Brunswick) ;  so,  after  the  humiliating  Peace  of  Basle,  he 
retired  with  the  rank  of  captain  to  indulge  his  peculiar 
humours  on  his  own  estate.  The  winter  months  he 
generally  spent  in  Berlin,  where  he  is  said  to  have  been 
welcomed  as  a  congenial  companion  by  the  gay  and  fiery 
nephew  of  Frederick  the  Great,  Prince  Louis  Ferdinand, 
who  afterwards  fell  at  Saalfeld.  In  1806  Charles 
William  Ferdinand  married,  and  scarcely  had  he  brought 
his  winsome  bride  of  sixteen  home  to  Schonhausen 
when  the  terrible  news  of  Jena  spread  like  wild- fire 
through  the  Mark,  and  the  French  were  upon  them  like 
the  Philistines.  Finding  the  Bismarck  mansion  deserted 
of  its  owners — for  they,  too,  had  fled  with  the  rest  of 
the  villagers  to  a  neighbouring  forest — the  disappointed 
soldiery  of  Soult  played  wanton  havoc  with  the  house- 
hold goods,  slashing,  among  other  acts  of  Vandalism, 
the  genealogical  tree  of  the  family — all  of  which  must 
have  been  listened  to  in  later  years  by  the  boy  Chan- 
cellor with  feelings  of  indignation  that  could  not  have 
tended  to  soften  his  treatment  of  beleaguered  Paris, 
we  may  be  sure. 

The  mother  of  the  Prince — Louise  Wilhelmina — 
who  was  nineteen  years  younger  than  her  husband,  was 
the  orphan  daughter  of  Anastasius  Ludwig       Bismarck's 
Menken,    a   cultivated    and   liberal-minded 
bureaucrat  who  helped  Frederick  the  Great  to  manage 


10  TUINOE   BISMARCK. 

his  foreign  affairs,  and  also  served  in  the  same  capacity 
under  both  his  successors  with  the  title  of  Geheimrath, 
or  Privy  Councillor — a  dignity  which  defies  exact  defini- 
tion, but  is  very  different  from  the  English  office  of  the 
same  name,  the  bearer  of  it  in  Prussia  being  in  general 
describable  as  a  superior  sort  of  Civil  Service  clerk,  with 
a  salary  rarely  exceeding  £300  a  year,  paid  partly  in 
money  and  partly  in  decorations.  For  a  titled  gentle- 
man of  the  Old  Mark  to  break  the  rules  of  his  caste  by 
wedding  the  daughter  of  a  bourgeois  bureaucrat  re- 
quired no  slight  moral  courage,  but  the  Bismarcks  have 
never  been  remarkable  for  timid  deference  to  the  pre- 
judices of  the  world;  and,  indeed,  the  wife  of  Charles 
William  Ferdinand  was  adorned  with  personal  qualities 
which  amply  compensated  her  in  the  eyes  of  her  hus- 
band for  want  of  birth.  Once,  when  a  troop  of  Liitzow's 
famous  Free  Corps  was  quartered  at  Schonhausen,  the 
mistress  of  the  mansion — mother  of  the  future  Chan- 
cellor—  was  found  making  excellent  practice  at  pistol- 
shooting  with  the  commander  of  the  Horse  ;*  and  in 
this  connection  it  may  be  mentioned  as  a  curious  fact, 
which  cannot  but  have  had  a  subsequent  effect  on  the 
imagination  of  young  Bismarck,  that  to  his  father's 
house  for  medical  treatment  was  brought  Llitzow  him- 
self, the  famous  hero  of  the  Liberation  War,  when 
wounded  not  far  away  at  Dodendorf.f 

*  Related  by  a  member  of  Liitzow's  Corps,  Dr.  Edward  Diirre,  in  his 
Autobiography,  and  certified  to  be  accurate  in  this  particular  by  the  Chan- 
cellor  himself. 

f  Memoirs  of  Achaz  v.  Bismarck,  who  describes  how  when  Liitzow 
was  wounded  at  Dodendorf,  "  I  stood  by  my  friend  and  had  him  carried 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  11 

Most  of  the  other  maternal  ancestors  of  the  Chan- 
cellor had  belonged  to  the  poor  but  pedigreed  gentry 
of  Brandenburg.  His  great-great-grand-  Ancestr7and 
mother,  for  example,  was  a  near  relative  of 
that  devoted  Lieutenant  Katte*,  who  expiated  on  the 
scaffold  his  Jonathan-like  attachment  to  Frederick, 
Prince  of  Prussia,  afterwards  the  Great ;  while,  through 
the  female  line  of  his  ancestry,  he  also  inherited  blood 
which  had  run  in  the  veins  of  the  celebrated  Field- 
marshal  von  Derfflinger,  conqueror  of  the  Swedes.  Thus 
we  see  that,  on  the  paternal  side,  Prince  Bismarck  is  de- 
scended from  a  long  line  of  ancestors  belonging  to  the 
gentry  or  lesser  noblesse  of  Brandenburg,  who  passed 
their  lives  in  hunting,  soldiering,  and  farming;  while 
his  mother  was  the  daughter  of  a  man  who,  to  the 
cultured  graces  of  an  enlightened  mind,  added  the 
business  merits  of  a  Prussian  bureaucrat ;  and  it  will 
probably  appear  in  the  course  of  this  narrative  that  its 
subject  has  inherited  in  a  singular  degree  the  opposite 
qualities  thus  placed  within  the  reach  of  both  his 
parents. 

Otto  Edward  Leopold  von  Bismarck  was  the  fourth 
of  six  children,  three  of  whom  died  in  infancy,  leaving 
the  future  Prince  with  a  brother  and  sister — one  five 
years   older,    and   the   other   twelve   years 
younger,  than  himself.     The  former.  Ber-     brother  and 

J  &      '  t  sister. 

nard,  developed  into  a  country  magistrate ; 

while  the  latter,  to  whom  her  more  gifted  brother  was 

across  the  Elbe  at  TaDgermiinde  to  the  house  of  my  cousin,  the  father  of 
the  present  Envov  at  the  Diet  (in  Frankfort),  v.  Bismarck-Schonhausen." 


12  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

much  devoted,  and  most  of  his  earlier  letters  were 
addressed,  became  the  wife  of  a  Yon  Arnim-Krochlen- 
dorff,  likewise  a  country  squire  and  justice.  A  striking 
instance  of  human  inability  to  see  into  the  future  was 
presented  by  the  parental  announcement  in  a  Berlin 
newspaper  of  the  birth  of  the  future  Chancellor,  which, 
while  recording  the  momentous  fact,  requested  the 
friends  of  the  family  "  to  dispense  with  their  congratu- 
lations." 

Though  born  in  Brandenburg,  the  infancy  of  the 

Prince  was  spent  in  Pomerania,   whither  a  year  after 

his    birth    his    parents    had    removed     to 

His  infancy.  .  x 

superintend  three  inherited  estates — Kniep- 
hof,  Kiilz,  and  Jarchelin — in  the  district  of  Naugard, 
half  a  day's  journey  north-east  of  the  provincial 
capital,  Stettin.  It  was,  then,  at  the  remote  and 
homely  country-house  of  Kniephof  where  the  re- 
tired Captain  von  Bismarck-  hunted,  handled  grain, 
sold  timber,  and  discussed  French  politics  with 
the  local  gentry,  that  his  illustrious  son  received  his 
first  impressions  of  life.  Myths,  as  of  the  infant 
Hercules,  have  already  grown  up  around  the  child- 
hood of  the  slayer  of  the  Napoleonic  Lion,  but  these 
we  leave  to  nurses  and  the  writers  of  German  picture- 
books. 

The  first  outstanding  fact  in  the  career  of  the 
boy  is  that,  at  the  early  age  of  six,  he  was  placed  in  the 
boarding  school  of  Professor  Plamann,  at  Berlin,  which 
was  conducted  on  the  Pesfcalozzi  system ;  and  in  later 
days  the  Chancellor  confessed  he  had  nothing  but  dis- 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  13 

agreeable  recollections  of  the  time  he  spent  there, 
"  where  a  spurious  Spartanism  was  the  rule,"  and 
"  elastic  "  meat  with  parsnips  the  invariable  dish.  At 
the  age  of  twelve  he  was  removed  to  one 

At  school. 

of  the  gymnasia,  or  public  high-schools  of 
the  capita],  at  which,  and  at  another  of  the  same  kind, 
he  remained  in  all  five  years,  living  during  this  time 
partly  with  his  parents,  who  used  to  spend  the  winter 
months  in  Berlin,  and  partly  boarding  with  his  teachers, 
Professor  Prevost  and  Dr.  Bonnel — both  gentlemen  of 
Huguenot  descent,  and  likely,  therefore,  to  be  imbued 
with  large  and  liberal  ideas.  We  are  told  that  Dr. 
Bonnel,  who  lived  to  declaim  a  Latin  ode  to  his  illus- 
trious pupil  on  his  return  from  Koniggratz,  was  struck 
by  the  appearance  of  young  Bismarck  on  entering  his 
class,  and  determined  to  "  keep  his  eye  on  him."  His- 
tory was  the  boy's  favourite  study ;  and  though  it  was 
ominous  of  his  future  that  his  relations  with  his  French 
tutors  were  always  far  from  satisfactory,  he  nevertheless 
laid  the  foundation  of  his  knowledge  both  of 
their  language,  and  of  English,  which  en- 
abled him  in  after  life .  to  surprise  Louis  Napoleon  with 
the  purity  of  his  accent,  and  to  cause  Lord  Beaconsfield 
at  the  Berlin  Congress  to  wonder  how  its  President 
could  ever  have  acquired  such  a  mastery  over  the  tongue 
of  Burke.  On  his  sixteenth  birthday  he  was  confirmed 
in  the  Trinity  Church  of  Berlin  by  the  celebrated 
Schleiermacher ;  and  a  year  afterwards  he  passed  with 
credit  the  final  examination  entitling  him  to  proceed  to 
any  other  higher  sphere  of  study.  His  Latin  style  at 


14  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

this  time  was  described  as  "  lucida  ac  Latina,  sednon  satis 
castigata."  * 

But  while  he  had  thus  been  favoured  with  the  very 
best  preparatory  education  procurable,  care  was  also 
taken  to  preserve  in  him  that  healthy  equilibrium 
between  the  mental  and  the  physical  powers,  the  neglect 
of  which  causes  the  ordinary  Grerman  schoolboy  to 
resemble  a  sickly  hot-house  plant.  During  the  frequent 
holiday  visits  to  his  Pomeranian  home,  young  Bismarck 
had  an  opportunity  of  developing  those  fine  athletic 
energies  which  the  cross-bar  of  the  play-ground  is 
wholly  impotent  to  arouse.  Devoted  to  all  manly 
Fondness  for  sports,  he  was  a  swift  runner  and  a  capital 
jumper ;  and  he  learned  to  swim,  to  fence, 
to  row,  to  ride,  and  to  shoot.  With  his  rifle  he 
could  decapitate  a  duck  at  a  hundred  paces,  and 
in  revolver  practice  also  his  aim  was  deadly.  A 
story  is  told  of  his  having  gone  one  day  to  the  rooms 
of  his  brother,  when,  finding  him  out,  he  took  down 
his  cavalry  pistols  and  playfully  whiled  away  the 


*  "  When  I  was  in  the  highest  form  at  school,"  said  Bismarck  once, 
"I  wrote  and  spoke  Latin  very  well.  Now  it  has  become  difficult 
to  me,  and  I  have  quite  forgotten  my  Greek.  I  don't  understand  why 
people  spend  so  much  labour  on  them.  Perhaps  merely  because  scholars 
do  not  like  to  lessen  the  value  of  what  they  themselves  acquired  with  so 
much  difficulty.  But  if  it  is  contended  that  Greek  gives  'mental  dis- 
cipline,' Russian  does  so  in  a  still  higher  degree.  People  might  introduce 
Russian  at  once  instead  of  Greek ;  there  would  be  immediate  practical  use 
in  that.  It  has  innumerable  niceties  to  make  up  for  the  incompleteness  of 
its  conjugation,  and  the  eight-and-twenty  declensions  they  used  to  have 
were  capital  for  the  memory.  Now,  indeed,  they  have  only  three,  but  then 
the  exceptions  are  all  the  more  numerous.  And  how  the  roots  are  changed ; 
in  many  words  only  a  single  letter  remains." — Dr.  Busch. 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY   MANHOOD.  15 

time  with  target-practice  at  the  book-case,  to  the  no 
small  consternation  of  the  neighbours. 

In  particular  he  was  taught  to  ride  like  a  Cen- 
taur, an  accomplishment  in  which  he  was  peculiarly 
fitted  by  nature  to  excel;  and  so  well  APomeraniar 
did  he  attend  to  the  precepts  of  his  father 
in  this  respect  that  the  old  Eittmeister,  when  especially 
pleased  with  the  equestrian  feats  of  his  daring  son,  used 
to  remark  that  he  had  a  seat  like  Pluvenel,  Master  of 
the  Horse  to  Louis  Quatorze,  or  like  Hilmar  Cura  who 
had  been  riding-master  to  Frederick  the  Great.  With- 
out, too,  having  had  that  cross-country  training  which 
can  only  be  got  in  England,  the  Prince  in  his  earlier  days 
went  full  at  his  object  with  the  rectilinearity  of  the 
most  reckless  hunter  in  all  the  shires  ;  and  he  has  him- 
self recorded  that,  if  he  has  fallen  from  his  horse  once, 
he  must  have  done  so  at  least  fifty  times.  Even  in 
later  days  he  broke  three  of  his  ribs  thus  at  Yarzin ;  and 
the  story  of  some  of  his  earlier  rides  sounds  like  the 
mere  account  of  a  struggle  between  horse  and  man  to 
keep  uppermost.*  Endurance  he  united  to  skill,  and 
the  practice  he  gained  by  careering  across  the  moors  of 
Pomerania  to  inspect  his  farms,  or  attend  a  county  ball 
or  a  drinking  bout,  was  the  secret  of  the  great  strength 


*  "  Once  before,"  said  Bismarck,  during  the  French  war,  "  I  had  a 
remarkable  fall.  I  was  on  the  road  home  with  my  brother,  and  we  were 
riding  as  fast  as  the  horses  would  go.  Suddenly  my  brother,  who  was  a 
little  in  front,  heard  a  frightful  crack.  It  was  my  head,  which  had 

knocked  on  the  road On  another  occasion,  too,  I  had  such  a  serious 

fall  from  my  horse,  that  when  the  doctor  examined  my  hurts,  he  said  it- 
was  contrary  to  all  professional  rules  that  I  had  not  broken  my  neck." 


16  PRINCE   BISMAHCK. 

which  enabled  him  in  earnest  after  years  to  dismount  in 
astonishingly  fresh  condition  after  having  been  thirteen 
fasting  hours  at  a  stretch  in  the  saddle  both  at  Sadowa 
and  Sedan. 

At  school  Otto  Yon  Bismarck  had  passed  for  a  boy 
of  quick  intelligence  and  great  power  of  work,  though 
of  shy  and  retiring  disposition,  not  much  given  to  form- 
ing friendships ;  but  at  the  Hanoverian  University  of 
Gottingen,  whither  he  afterwards  repaired,  in  1832,  as 
a  tall,  slim  youth  of  seventeen — "  as  thin  as  a  knitting- 
needle  " — with  the  ostensible  purpose  of  studying  law, 
his  whole  nature  seemed  to  become  suddenly  changed. 
The  German  Universities  chiefly  present  themselves  to 
the  national  youth  as  so  many  evergreen  oases,  where  it 
may  rest  from  the  grinding  routine  of  previous  school- 
life,  and  fortify  itself  for  the  arid  expanse  of  social 
Attheuni-  tyranny  and  State-servitude  still  ahead; 
and  the  national  youth  enjoys  the  blessed 
interval  of  repose  with  all  the  wild  abandonment  of 
emancipated  slaves.  Idleness  becomes  their  serious 
occupation  ;  the  human  race,  with  them,  undergoes  a 
new  classification  into  "  philosophic  youth  "  and  "  Phi- 
listines ; "  and  social  convention  becomes  more  criminal 
in  their  eyes  than  the  despotism  of  French  kings  seemed 
to  the  revolutionaries  of  1789.  And  while  thus  assert- 
ing their  opening  manhood  they  fancy  they  are  leading 
a  life  of  high  romantic  liberty — which  consists  in  con- 
suming cargoes  of  tobacco,  in  going  to  bed  as  barrels 
of  beer  and  in  rising  as  beer-barrels,  in  quarrelling  with 
each  other  on  a  slighter  pretext  than  would  have  served 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  17 

as  the  basis  of  a  street-brawl  between  the  serving-men  of 
Montague  and  Capulet,  and  in  hacking  one  another's 
faces  into  the  brutal  semblance  of  a  butcher's  board. 

Now,  of  all  the  rufflers  of  this  stamp  at  Gottingen, 
Otto  von  Bismarck  in  his  time  was  chief.  He  got  him- 
self up  in  the  traditional  long-boots,  vel-  Wild  8tudent 
vet  jacket,  and  saucer  cap;  he  flaunted 
the  colours  of  his  corps  (or  fighting  club) ;  he 
sported  a  pipe  a  yard  long;  and  he  led  about  a 
ferocious  mastiff  without  being  at  all  particular  as 
to  whether  it  had  on  the  regulation  Maulkorb,  or 
muzzle,  with  which  in  later  years  he  vainly  tried  to 
gag  the  mouths  of  mordant  deputies.*  "  Dominus  de 
Bismarck  "  was  not  long  in  becoming  acquainted  with 
the  inside  of  the  Career,  or  University  prison ;  in- 
deed, he  had  not  been  twenty -four  hours  in  Gottingen 
when  he  was  summoned  by  the  rector  to  answer  to  a 
charge  of  serious  misconduct,  and  it  was  characteristic 
of  his  cool  audacity  that  he  and  his  dog  sauntered  in 
before  his  academic  judge  in  a  costume  which  seemed  to 
have  equally  shared  its  patronage  between  the  dressing- 
room,  the  barracks,  and  the  promenade.  Otto  Von 
Bismarck  spent  three  semesters  at  Gottingen,  and  some 
idea  of  the  combativeness  of  the  man  may  be  gathered 
from  the  fact  that  during  this  time  he  fought  no  fewer 
than  twenty-eight  duels,  in  each  of  which,  being  tall 
and  keen  of  sight,  he  drew  blood  from  his  opponent; 

*  Spring  of  1879,  when  he  submitted  a  law  for  restraining  licence  of 
speech  in  Parliament — the   so-called  "Muzzle  Measure,"  or  Maulkorb- 


18  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

while  only  once  did  he  receive  a  scar — still  visible  on  the 

left  cheek — by  the  accidental  breaking  of  his  adversary's 

.blade.     Several  of  the  men  who  thus  had 

Duelling. 

to  confess  the  force  of  Bismarck's  arm 
were  also  destined  in  later  years  to  feel  the  bite  of  his 
tongue;  and  there  is  no  saying  to  what  extent  the 
systematic  opposition  of  the  diminutive  Dr.  Windthorst, 
leader  of  the  Clericals,  to  the  towering  Chancellor  may 
not  have  been  prompted  by  the  recollection  of  duello 
defeats  inflicted  on  him  at  Grb'ttingen.  Indeed,  His 
Highness  once  complained  in  the  Prussian  Chamber 
that  the  business  of  government  was  sadly  hampered  by 
the  mere  wanton  spirit  of  hostility  and  love  of  fighting 
contracted  by  honourable  members  at  the  Universities, 
a  reproach  which  had  not  been  many  hours  across  his 
lips  before  one  deputy  challenged  another  on  the  ground 
of  insulted  honour.* 

It  was  not  to  be  expected  that  a  student  who  spent 
so  much  of  his  time  in  the  fencing- school  and  the  beer- 
house could  cultivate  even  a  nodding  acquaintance  with 
the  spirit  of  Justinian,  and  it  was  the  talk  of  the  place 
when  Bismarck  went  to  lecture.  One  eminent  professor 
declared  that,  though  enrolled  among  his  hearers,  he 
had  never  once  had  the  pleasure  of  seeing  him  in  his 
class-room.  The  fame  of  his  prowess  with  the  foils 
had  spread  to  the  neighbouring  Jena  (where  fighting 
clubs  first  arose),  and  the  hero  of  nearly  thirty  duels 
was  invited  thither  to  be  feted  by  the  bellicose  youth  of 

*  Hen-en  von  Bennigsen    and  von  Ludwig,  in    the    first  week  of 
February,  1881. 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  19 

that  charming  old  abode  of  the  muses  on  the  Saale ;  but 
the  dons  of  Gb'ttingen,  thinking  it  enough  that  one 
University  should  have  been  misled  by  the  wild  Pome- 
ranian Junker,  sent  over  the  proctor  to  fetch  him  back. 
But  frolicsome  and  effervescent  as  he  was,  it  appears 
that  even  then  he  also  had  his  serious  and  reflective 
moments  when  the  dim  feeling  of  his  life -task  stirred 
within  him  ;  -and  it  said  much  for  the  "  bur-  A  com  anion 
schicose  "  Otto  von  Bismarck  in  this  respect, 
that  he  often  enjoyed  congenial  converse  with  one  of 
his  fellow-students,  a  pensive  American  lad  called  John 
Lothrop  Motley — one  afterwards  to  become  the  best 
history-maker,  and  the  other  one  of  the  best  history- 
writers  of  the  nineteenth  century.* 

*  The  relationship  of  the  two  celebrities  was  not  broken  off  here.  In 
1833  both  Bismarck  and  Motley  migrated  to  Berlin  to  continue  their 
studies,  and  lived  together  in  the  closest  intimacy  as  fellow  lodgers,  sharing 
meals  and  amusements.  They  frequently  met  again  in  later  years,  and 
when,  after  the  Danish  war,  Bismarck  went  to  Yienna  to  settle  the  terms 
of  peace,  he  found  his  old  companion  installed  there  as  United  States 
Minister.  In  1872,  also,  after  a  somewhat  capricious  and  ungrateful 
country  had  induced  him  to  abandon  the  double  career  of  a  diplomatist 
and  an  historian,  Motley  spent  a  week  at  Varzin  with  the  Chancellor  on 
the  occasion  of  the  latter's  silver -wedding,  and  discussed  with  him  his 
great  achievements.  The  publisher  of  the  Public  Ledger  in  Philadelphia 
having  sent  the  Prince  at  Yarzin  a  cane  made  from  the  wood  of  Inde- 
pendence Hall,  the  latter  acknowledged  the  gift  in  the  following  interesting 
letter : — "  Yarziu,  July  4,  1875.  Dear  Sir, — You  have  had  the  goodness  to 
send  me,  as  a  support  for  my  old  days,  a  cane  made  from  the  tower  from 
whose  heights,  ninety-nine  years  ago,  the  bell  was  rung  for  the  first  time  in 
honour  of  that  great  commonwealth  whose  ship  bells  now  sound  their  full 
and  welcome  tongues  in  all  harbours  of  the  world.  For  this  historical 
treasure  I  beg  you  to  accept  my  heartiest  thanks.  I  shall  honour  it,  care- 
fully preserve  it,  and,  with  other  relics  of  remarkable  years,  bequeath  it  to 
my  children.  This  day  is  one  of  those  which  always  recall  to  my  mind  the 
happy  hours  that  I  have  spent  on  many  a  Fourth  of  July  with  American 
friends,  the  first  time  with  John  Lothrop  Motley,  Mitchell  G.  King,  and 

c  2 


20  PRINOE   BISMAEOK. 

And  the  times,  though  forming  part  of  the  Thirty 
Years'  Peace,  were  not  without  their  pregnant  signs. 

signs  of  the  ^ne  "  ^nree  July  days  "  had  again  drawn 
the  attention  of  politicians  to  France ; 
the  Polish  rebellion  had  not  long  been  quenched 
in  blood;  and  Germany  was  beginning  to  open  its 
cities  to  the  seeds  of  that  Eevolution  which,  in  a 
few  years  more,  was  to  shoot  up  and  make  the 
tour  of  Europe.  Young  Bismarck  had  not  been 
many  days  at  Gottingen  when  he  must  have  heard  of 
the  great  political  demonstration  at  Hambach,*  in  the 
Palatinate,  when  a  mass  meeting,  attended  by  about 
30,000,  was  addressed  by  fiery  orators  who  declared 
the  sovereignty  of  the  people  to  be  the  basis  -of  all 
States,  and  urged  the  unification  and  republican ising  of 
Germany.  With  all  his  duelling  and  rioting,  too,  the 
careless  Gottingen  student  had  his  own  thoughts  on  the 
subject.  "  The  most  remarkable  thing,"  said  the  Chan- 
cellor during  the  French  campaign,  when  once  referring 
to  his  stay  at  Gottingen,  ' '  is  that  I  must  even  there 
have  had  the  ideas  and  hopes  which  have  now  by  God's 
help  been  realised,  although  my  attitude  to  the  Unity 
party  was  then  only  adverse."  The  current  o£  his 
opening  thoughts  on  the  subject  may  be 
traced  by  the  fact  that  he  wagered  five-and- 
twenty  bottles  of  champagne  with  an  American — the 

Amory  Coffin,  in  1832,  at  Gottingen.  I  only  wish  that  you,  my  dear  sir 
and  I  could  always  be  as  sound  and  happy  as  we  four  lusty  fellows,  when, 
forty- three  years  ago,  we  celebrated  the  Fourth  of  July  at  Gottingen.— 
YON  BISMARCK." 

•  On  27th  May,  1832. 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  21 

winner  to  stand,  and  the  loser  to  cross  the  sea  for  it — 
that  Germany  would  be  united  in  twenty  years  ;*  but 
this  period  was  too  short  by  nearly  a  half. 

In  1833  Bismarck  exchanged  Gottingen  for  Berlin, 
for  a  German  student  rarely  contents  himself  with  one 
University ;  but,  though  his  opportunities  of  acquiring 
knowledge  were  thus  increased,  it  did  not  strike  his 
friends  that  there  was  any  marked  improvement  in  his 
industry.  The  celebrated  Savigny  then  attracted 
crowds  of  pupils,  but  the  celebrity  of  passingex- 
Savigny  was  powerless  to  allure  the  future 
Chancellor  of  Germany  to  listen  to  his  lectures  more 
than  twice.  But  work  at  the  last  he  must  have  done, 
and  that,  too,  with  the  enormous  concentration  of  his 
riper  powers ;  for  that  he  passed  his  State  examination 
in  law,  with  credit  at  least,  if  not  with  brilliancy, 
argued  that  he  must  have  crammed  the  labour  of  six 
semesters  into  one.  It  does  not  appear  that  at  this 
time  Bismarck  had  any  predilection  for  the  career  which 
he  afterwards  embraced ;  but,  while  indifferent  as  to 
gratifying  the  ambition  of  his  mother,  who  discovered 
in  her  son  the  making  of  a  great  diplomatist,  he  recog- 
nised the  prudence  of  qualifying  himself  for  the  dis- 
charge of  those  executive  duties  which  were  likely  to 
devolve  upon  him  in  after  life  as  a  country  gentle- 
man. 

Soon,  therefore,  after  passing  his  first  State  exami- 

•  "In  1853,"  said  the  Prince  once,  according  to  Bnsch,  "  I  thought  of 
the  bet,  and  intended  to  go  across  the  sea  for  it ;  but,  upon  inquiry,  I 
found  my  man  was  dead.  He  had  just  the  sort  of  name  that  promised  no 
length  of  life— Coffin  1 " 


22  FRINGE  BISMARGK. 

nation,  he  was  sworn  in  as  Auscultator,*  or  official  law- 
reporter,    at   one   of  the   Berlin  tribunals;    and  for   a 

Law-reporter.  vear  or  more  ne  devoted  himself  to  the 
performance  of  his  duties  with  a  con- 
scientiousness and  an  energy  which  made  him  some- 
times almost  forget  both  the  deference  he  owed 
the  bench  and  the  courtesy  due  to  suitors.  "  Sir," 
he  once  angrily  exclaimed  to  an  intractable  wit- 
ness ;  "  sir,  take  care,  or  I'll  have  you  kicked  out ! " 
"Herr  Auscultator,"  interposed  the  judge,  "the  kicking 
out  is  my  business."  "  Sir,"  once  more  cried  the  Herr 
Auscultator,  in  a  threatening  tone,  on  the  cross-exami- 
nation proceeding  with  no  better  result,  "  sir,  take  care, 
or  I'll  get  the  judge  to  kick  you  out " — an  incident  we 
may  regard  as  the  first  clear  enunciation  of  that  policy 
of  force  in  recent  Prussian  history,  which  has  repeatedly 
"  kicked  out "  intractable  Parliaments  and  dethroned 
monarch  s. 

But  his  official  duties  at  Berlin  by  no  means  claimed 
his  whole  attention,  and  young  Bismarck  now  began  to 
A  dancing  cultivate  that  acquaintance  with  the 
diplomatist.  wori<i  which  is  a  very  much  rarer  ac- 
complishment with  his  countrymen,  as  a  rule,  than 
a  knowledge  of  Bynkershoek  and  of  Bentham,  and 
which  was  far  more  serviceable  to  him  in  recon- 


•"My  fellow  Auscultators,"  says  Herr  Diogenes  Teufelsdrockh, 
"were  Auscultators.  They  dressed  and  digested,  and  talked  articulate 
words ;  other  ritality  showed  they  almost  none.  Small  speculation  in  those 
eyes  that  they  did  glare  withal !  Sense  neither  for  the  high,  nor  for  the 
deep,  nor  for  aught  human  or  divine,  save  only  for  the  faintest  scent  of 
coming  preferment." 


YOUTH   AND    EARLY  MANHOOD.  23 

structing  the  map  of  Europe  than  would  have  been 
the  profoundest  study  of  all  the  treatises  on  international 
law  that  were  ever  penned.  He  began  to  go  much  into 
the  gay  society  of  the  capital,  which  he  found  to  be 
given  up  to  talking  in  a  tone  of  "  malicious  impotence/' 
and  to  have  "  plenty  of  apparent,  but  no  real,  good 
breeding  " — a  state  of  things  which  some  good  judges 
think  has  not  even  yet  sensibly  changed  for  the  better. 
One  ambassador  used  to  give  balls,  where  his  guests 
danced  till  three  in  the  morning  but  got  nothing  to  eat. 
At  length  young  Bismarck  and  a  couple  of  friends  who 
frequented  these  assemblies  rebelled  against  this  festive 
system,  and  once,  on  its  growing  late,  boldly  produced 
some  sandwiches  and  devoured  them  with  an  ostenta- 
tious air  of  hunger — a  hint  which  duly  took  effect  next 
time,  while  making  martyrs  of  its  authors.  It  was 
about  this  time,  too,  that  the  future  Grerman  Emperor 
first  met  the  man  who  was  to  give  him  his  crown,  little 
thinking  of  it  certainly  at  the  time.  At  a 
court  ball  Herr  von  Bismarck  was  introduced  tfcTpSnceo* 

Prussia. 

to  the  Prince  of  Prussia,  along  with  another 
legal  colleague  about  as  tall  and  strapping  as  himself. 
"  Well/'  quoth  the  soldierly  Prince,  with  the  true  eye 
of  a  Hohenzolkrn  for  a  likely  grenadier,  "  well,  Justice 
seems  to  cull  her  young  recruits  according  to  the 
standard  of  the  Guards/' 

In  1836  Bismarck,  having  absolved  his  Auscultator- 
ship,  was  transferred,  in  the  higher  capacity  of  Eefer- 
endary,  to  Aix-la-Chapelle,  the  ancient  coronation-city  01 
the  Grerman  Emperors.  Here  he  was  attached  not  to 


24  PRINCE   BISMAROK. 

the  legal,  but  the  administrative  department  of  the 
district,  which  had  come  into  the  possession  of  Prussia 
in  1815,  his  chief  being  an  uncle  of  that  Harry  von 
Arnim  of  whom  the  world  was  afterwards  to  hear  so 
much.  But  the  secrets  of  government  were 


Referendary 
at  Ai 
pelle. 


at  Aix-ia-cha-     not  so  attractive  to  the  young  official  as  the 


international  society  with  which  this  fash- 
ionable watering-place  then  abounded ;  and  we  hear  of 
his  consorting  much  with  foreigners,  especially  with  the 
English.  The  Duke  of  Cleveland  is  even  said  to  have 
pronounced  him  "  quite  an  Englishman ;  "  *  but  per- 
haps this  dictum  of  His  Grace  referred  to  those  pug- 
nacious qualities  of  the  British  race  which  Bismarck  is 
alleged  to  have  once  displayed  in  the  streets  of  Aix-la- 
Chapelle.  Gazing  at  a  high  processional  rite  he  failed 
to  imitate  the  genuflecting  on-lookers,  or  even  doff  his 
hat,  and  was  most  rudely  reminded  of  the  omission  by  a 
Catholic  boor,  who  received  from  the  object  of  his 
aggression  immediate  cause  to  regret  that  the  "  Kultur- 
kampf "  had  not  yet  advanced  from  the  physical  into 
the  moral  phase. 

The  next  and  last  stage  in  the  preliminary  official 
training  of  Bismarck  was  at  Potsdam,  whither  he  was 
transferred,  in  1837,  to  serve  in  the  Crown  Office  of  that 
district.  For  punctuality  and  subjection  to  his  superiors 
he  had  never  yet  been  remarkable,  but  there  was  now 
given  him  an  opportunity  of  displaying  these  qualities 
as  a  one-year  volunteer  in  the  Jager,  or  Sharpshooters  of 

*  "We  quote  this  story  from  Herr  von  Koppen,  one  of  the  Prince's 
biographers. 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  25 

the  Guard — which  he  entered  about  this  time  to  absolve 
his  military  service.  There  is  no  more  pensive  occu- 
pation than  that  of  a  sentry  in  a  solitary 

•f        As  a  soldier. 

place ;  and  young  Bismarck  had  now  ample 
opportunity  of  reviewing  the  past  and  revolving  the 
future  when,  with  musket  on  shoulder,  it  was  his  turn 
to  pace  tbe  midnight  terraces  of  Sans  Souci,  with  the 
spirits  of  the  Great  Frederick  and  his  mighty  men  still 
hovering  around.  His  military  year,  begun  at  Potsdam, 
was  finished  at  Greifswald,  whither  he  had  got  himself 
transferred  in  order  to  make  simultaneous  use  of  his 
time  by  attending  lectures  on  agriculture  and  other 
practical  subjects.  For  paternal  extravagance  had  sadly 
encumbered  the  family  estates,  and  the  father  offered  to 
retire  to  Schonhausen,  entrusting  the  management  of 
his  Pomeranian  property  to  the  care  of  his  two  sons. 
Here,  then,  till  events  ripened,  and  a  better  career 
offered,  was  congenial  enough  employment  for  him  who 
had  now  begun  to  grope  about  for  his  true  calling  like 
blinded  Polyphemus  in  his  cave ;  and  it  was  a  fitting, 
if  an  easy  stage  in  the  apprenticeship  of  the  man  who 
was  to  resuscitate  the  German  Empire,  that  he  should 
first  be  called  upon  to  restore  the  shattered  fortunes  of 
his  own  house. 

For  about  the  next  eight  years,  therefore,  or  from 
the  age  of  twenty-four  to  that  of  thirty-two  (when  he 
married   and   appeared   upon   the    political     Out  ^  the 
stage)    we    find    Bismarck    living,    so    to     ^d<Sie8* 
speak,     out    in    the    wilderness — oscillating     between 
Pomerania   and   the     Old     Mark,    farming,     hunting, 


26  PRINOE   BISMAEGK 

soldiering,  carousing,  studying,  acting  as  local  deputy 
and  magistrate,  and  rubbing  off  the  rust  of  country 
life  with  occasional  excursions  into  the  great  world. 
He  had  scarcely  been  installed  a  year  in  his  Pome- 
ranian home  when  there  occurred  an  event  which 
drew  him  to  Berlin,  and  must  have  given  him  food 
enough  for  reflection  during  the  winter  months,  amid 
all  his  cares  of  "  night- frosts,  sick  oxen,  bad  rape,  and 
worse  roads,  dead  lambs,  half-starved  sheep,  want  of 
straw,  fodder,  money,  potatoes,  and  manure." 

On  the  7th  June,  1840,  died  King  Frederick  Wil- 
liam III.,  and  his  son  Frederick  William  IV.  reigned 
A  memorable  •  m  n^s  stead.  What  his  predecessor  had 
often  promised,  yet  never  given,  the  people 
now  fairly  expected  from  their  new  Sovereign  ;  but,  in- 
stead of  granting  them  a  Constitution,  he  merely  flung 
them  an  amnesty.  In  October  of  the  same  year  there 
was  a  high  State  ceremony  *  in  Berlin,  and  old  Captain 
von  Bismarck  with  his  two  sons  went  up  to  see  it. 
Conspicuous  on  a  canopied  platform,  before  the  royal 
castle,  did  the  new  King  solemnly  vow  to  the  various 
representatives  of  the  nation  who  had  crowded  thither 
to  swear  allegiance  to  him,  that  "  he  would  rule  in  the 
fear  of  God  and  in  the  love  of  men,  with  open  eyes  when 
it  concerned  the  wants  of  his  people,  but  with  closed 
ones  in  matters  of  justice."  And  then,  with  fervour  in 

*  Huldigung,  or  "  Homaging,"  a  ceremony  in  Prussia  which  generally 
takes  the  place  of  coronation.  Of  all  the  Kings  of  Prussia,  only  two,  the 
first  one,  Frederick  I.  and  William  I.  (German  Emperor)  hare  hitherto 
been  crowned  (at  Konigsberg),  and  then,  too,  by  themselves,  as  empha- 
sising their  claim  to  reign  by  divine  right, 


YOUTH  AND  EARLY  MANHOOD.         27 

his  voice,  he  asked  them  whether  "  with  heart  and  soul, 
and  word  and  deed,  in  the  sacred  faith  of  Grermans,  and 
the  still  more  sacred  love  of  Christians,  they  would  help 
and  assist  him  to  maintain  Prussia  as  it  was,  and  as  it 
must  always  remain  if  it  were  not  to  perish ;  "  to  which 
all  the  gazing  (but  surely  not  listening)  multitude  ac- 
claimed with  a  loud,  enthusiastic  "/«/"  Before  the 
lapse  of  seven  short  years  that  much-too-sentimental 
multitude  was  to  repent  them  bitterly  of  the  verbal 
contract  which  their  thoughtless  patriotism  had  wrung 
from  them,  and  cancel  it,  too,  in  blood — as  we  shall 
afterwards  see. 

Eeturned  to  Pomerania,  Herr  von  Bismarck  threw 
himself  heart  and  soul  into  the  task  that  was  before 
him,  and  he  seems  to  have  had  as  little  notion  that  a 
country  life  was  not  his  true  vocation,  as  Oliver  Crom- 
well at  one  time  never  doubted  that  he  was  born  to  be 
a  grazier.  In  fact,  not  to  speak  of  later  resemblances  in 
their  career,  the  early  life  of  the  Pomeranian 

r     j  -•  .,,      .*.  «      Resemblance 

squire  had  much  in  common  with  that  of     tooiiver 

-1  m  f  Cromwell 

the  Huntingdonshire  farmer,  albeit  the 
passion  for  prayer-meetings  and  communion  with  the 
Saints  might  not  have  been  equally  strong  in  both. 
Bismarck  now  attended  fairs,  sold  wool,  inspected  timber, 
handled  grain,  drove  hard  bargains,  gathered  rents,  and 
sat  as  deputy  in  the  local  Diet.  It  was  surely  a  poor 
enough  beginning  for  the  man  on  whose  diplomatic 
utterances  all  Europe  afterwards  came  to  hang,  that  his 
first  speech  in  the  rural  assembly  treated  of  "  the 
excessive  consumption  of  tallow  in  the  workhouse," 


28  PRINCE   BISMABOK.    . 

Humble  in  his  debut  as  an  orator,  he  has  recorded  that 
his  first  attempt  at  journalism  proved  a  total  failure. 
But  with  all  his  manifold  sorrows  he  had  a  splendid 
appetite  and  "  slept  lite  a  badger,"  despite  such  inter- 
ruptions as  the  "  melancholy  howling  of  the  sheep-dog, 
locked  up  for  immoderate  love  of  hunting." 

"  I  have  been  writing  and  walking  all  day  in  the  sun,"  he  wrote 
to  his  sister,  "  and  yesterday  looked  on  at  the  dancing  in  Plathe,  and 
drank  a  good  deal  of  Montebello  champagne."  And  again,  "ever 
almost  since  the  wool-market  I  have  been  representing  our  roving 
Landrath "  (his  brother  Bernard) ;  "  have  held  with  much  energy 
many  a  court  in  the  hottest  of  weathers,  and  driven  so  constantly 
through  the  sandy  pines  that  I  and  my  horses  have  already  had  more 
than  enough  of  this  business.  And  now,  after  barely  a  week's  quiet, 
I  have  again  to  begin  to  serve  my  country  as  a  soldier/' 

Tedious  to  him  also  was  the  life  he  led  with  his 
father  at  Schonhausen — 

"Reading,  smoking,  walking,  helping  him  to  eat  lampreys,  and 
joining  in  a  farce  called  fox-hunting  ....  Besides  which  we 
inspect  the  orangery  twice  a  day,  the  sheep-pens  once,  and  the  four 
thermometers  in  the  parlour  every  hour  ....  so  that,  with 
such  a  multitude  of  things  to  do,  you  can  readily  fancy  I  have  had 
no  time  to  visit  the  parsons,  as  they  have  no  vote  at  the  district 
elections." 

If  his  life,  however,  in  the  Mark  was  dull,  he  took 
care  to  give  it  a  very  different  complexion  in  Pomerania, 
"Mad   BIS-     where  he  soon  came  to  be  the  talk  and  the 
terror   of    the   neighbourhood.      His   wild 
ways,  his  dancings,  his  demon-like  rides,  and  his  drink- 
ing bouts,  soon  procured  him  an  uncanny  name,  and  he 
was    known    in    the    district    as     "  mad    Bismarck. " 
"  ^Esthetic  teas  "  were  not  at  all  to  his  taste,  but  he 


70UTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  29 

would  willingly  gallop  twenty  or  thirty  miles  after  a 
hard  day's  work  to  a  county  ball.  His  wine-cellar  was 
his  first  care,  and  we  find  him  bewailing  the  loss  of  one 
of  his  carts,  with  its  load  of  "  three  casks  of  spirits," 
which  had  been  carried  away  by  a  flood.  A  worthy 
successor  at  Kniephof  to  that  ancestor  of  his  whose 
toasts  were  accompanied  by  volleys  of  musketry,  Bis- 
marck often  relieved  his  rural  solitude  by  entertaining 
the  boldest  spirits  from  the  surrounding  garrisons,  and 
he  -easily  bore  away  the  bell  among  a  set  of  boon  com- 
panions by  whom  the  strongest  headed  three-bottle  men 
of  a  past  era  would  very  speedily  have  been  put  under 
the  table.*  He  quaffed  huge  cups  of  mixed  champagne 
and  porter,  he  awoke  his  guests  in  the  morning  by 
firing  off  pistols  close  to  their  ears,  and  he  terrified  his 
lady-cousins  by  turning  foxes  into  the  drawing-room. 
With  a  character  of  this  kind,  therefore,  it  was  surely 
no  wonder  that,  having  once  plunged  into  an  election 
contest,  he  "  emerged  with  the  certainty  that  four  voters 
were  inclined  to  go  in  for  me  for  life  or  death,  and  two 
more  with  a  certain  amount  of  lukewarmness,  .  .  . 
so  that  I  thought  on  the  whole  I  had  better  retire." 

But  this,  after  all,  was  only  one  side  of  his  cha- 
racter.    Eevel  frequently  gave  place  to  reflection,  and 

•  •'  Formerly,"  said  the  Chancellor  once  during  the  French  campaign, 
"feats  of  that  sort"  (alluding  to  his  once  emptying  a  large  hornful  of 
champagne  at  a  single  draught)  "  were  the  indispensable  passports  into  the 
diplomatic  service.  They  drank  the  weak-headed  ones  below  the  table, 
then  asked  them  all  sorts  of  things  they  wanted  to  know,  and  forced  them 
to  make  concessions  beyond  their  authority,  to  which  they  also  induced 
them  to  sign  their  names,  and  on  the  poor  fellows  getting  sober  they 
could  never  imagine  how  their  signatures  got  there." — Busch. 


30  PRINCE  BI3MARCK. 

parcels  of  the  newest  books,  as  well  as  "casks  of 
spirits,"  were  addressed  to  Herr  von  Bismarck.  History 
in  particular  seems  to  have  engaged  much  of  his 
thoughts.  Even  the  works  of  the  sceptic  Jew, 
spirits  and  Spinoza,  which  Lessing  declared  to  contain 
all  true  philosophy,  he  studied  deeply ;  and 
also,  according  to  some,  pondered  the  maxims  of  Ma- 
chiavelli's  "  Prince."  There  are  signs  even  that  during 
these  fits  of  solitary  study  he  betrayed  an  occasional 
tendency,  despite  his  healthy  nature,  to  become  slightly 
"  sicklied  o'er  with  the  pale  cast  of  thought ; "  but  a 
potent  antidote  to  this  enervating  disease  was  the  stir- 
ring military  life  into  which  he  now  and  then  relapsed. 
By  the  laws  of  his  country  he  was  compelled  to  serve  it 
further  as  a  soldier,  but  the  laws  of  his  country  could 
not  have  compelled  him  to  do  anything  which  tallied  so 
much  with  his  own  natural  bent.  There  is  even  reason 
to  believe  that,  in  his  distracting  search  for  a  profession 
when  "  out  in  the  wilderness,"  he  seriously  thought  at 
one  time  of  procuring  a  commission.  It  is  certain  at 
least  that,  on  pretence  of  enjoying  the  agreeable  society  of 
certain  young  officers,  he  served  for  several  months  in  1843 
as  lieutenant  in  a  Pomeranian  regiment  of  Lancers  to 
make  himself  thoroughly  acquainted  with  the  routine  of 
the  cavalry  arm",  to  which  he  was  most  partial.  In  the 
previous  year  he  had  also  done  duty 
with  the  Stargard  Lancers  of  the  Land- 

wehr ;  *  and  it  was   at  this  time  that  he  gained   his 

first   decoration,   for   saving   the    life    of    his    groom, 

*  .Territorial  army,  or  second  reserve  force. 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  31 

who  had  fallen  into  deep  water  while  watering 
his  horse.  *  Without  a  moment's  hesitation  he 
plunged  in,  and  at  great  personal  risk  succeeded  in 
bringing  his  servant  safe  to  bank — a  feat  for  which  he 
received  the  coveted  Prussian  medal  "  for  rescuing  from 
danger/'  and  this  simple  recognition  of  merit  continued 
to  be  as  highly  prized  by  its  wearer  as  any  of  the 
proudest  orders  of  Christendom  subsequently  conferred 
upon  him. 

It  was  fortunate,  however,  for  Germany  that  the 

*  The  name  of  the  gi^om  was  Hildebrandt.  He  had  a  brother  who 
had  likewise  served  under  Bismarck  at  Schonhausen,  and  both  afterwards 
emigrated  to  America,  like  hundreds  and  thousands  of  their  conscript 
countrymen.  Towards  the  end  of  1881  the  former  died,  and  the  survivor 
wrote  from  Chicago  to  the  Prince  informing  him  of  the  fact,  and  of  other 
family  events.  The  Chancellor  at  once  sent  off  to  his  old  domestic  the 
following  letter,  which  deserves  to  be  quoted  as  revealing  some  very  homely 
and  touching  traits  in  the  character  of  its  author : — "  Berlin,  27th  De- 
cember, 1881.  DEAR  HILDEBRANDT, — I  received  your  letter  of  the  9th 
instant,  and  was  glad  to  see  you  are  well,  though  the  lapse  of  time  has  not 
spared  you  cause  for  mourning.  Tour  brother  would  seem  to  have  been 
older  than  I  thought.  It  was  not,  however,  at  Soldin,  but  at  Lippehue 
where  he  was  nearly  drowned  "  (not,  be  it  noted,  "  where  I  saved  his  life  "). 
"  In  1857  your  first  wife  was  quite  a  young  girl,  and  could  not,  therefore, 
have  been  old  when  she  died.  I  am  glad  you  are  living  happily  with  your 
present  one,  and  that  she  still  thinks  of  Germany.  August  is  likely  to 
have  become  a  fine  Yankee  gentleman  (by  this  time).  I  am  pretty  well  off 
in  so  far  as  my  own  ones  are  still  alive  and  well  by  the  grace  of  God,  and 
as  my  daughter  has  presented  me  with  two  grand -children.  My  sons,  I 
am  sorry  to  say,  are  not  yet  married,  but  both,  thank  God,  are  well,  which, 
unfortunately,  cannot  always  be  said  of  ray  wife,  and  of  myself  not  at  all. 
I  no  longer  hunt  now,  and  ride  but  seldom,  being  too  languid,  and  if  I  do  not 
take  rest  my  life-strength  will  soon  be  all  used  up.  How  old  are  you  now, 
and  what  kind  of  employment  have  you,  or  have  you  already  given  up 
work  ?  You  can  tell  your  wife  that  Lauenburg  "  (of  which  the  Prince  was 
presumably  told  she  was  a  native)  "  is  blooming.  I  was  there  last  autumn 
again  for  the  first  time  these  thirty  years ;  am  also  holder  of  the  freedom 
of  that  city,  and  have,  therefore,  especial  cause  to  greet  your  wife.— 
V.  BISMARCK." 


32  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

friends  of  Bismarck,  who  believed  himself  best  cut  out 
for  a  farmer  or  a  soldier,  took  a  higher  view  of  his 
worldly  pro-  capacities.  His  ambitious  mother,  who  died 
in  1839,  had  formed  a  high  opinion  of 
her  son's  fitness  for  the  diplomatic  career,  and 
was  not  even  shaken  in  her  conviction  by  the 
theatrical  airs  and  wildness  he  had  brought  back  from 
the  University  ;  while  his  brother  Bernard  declared  that 
both  by  taste  and  education  he  was  made  for  State- 
service,  and  would  enter  it  sooner  or  later.  It  was 
probably,  therefore,  less  the  dictates  of  his  own  judg- 
ment than  deference  to  that  of  his  friends  which  in- 
duced him  once  more  to  return  from  Pomerania  to 
Potsdam  to  continue  his  activity  as  Referendary  in  the 
Crown  Office,  and  prepare  himself  for  that  final  exami- 
nation demanded  of  every  one  aspiring  to  the  higher 
offices  of  State.  But  his  stay  here  was  as  short  as  his 
passing  of  the  examination  was  unattempted.  Never- 
theless, he  left  his  mark  behind. 

He  had  been  called  upon  to  draw  up  a  report  on  the 
compensation  of  certain  properties  bound  to  suffer  by 
some  projected  improvements,  and  one  sentence  of  this 
exquisite  paper,  still  preserved,  speaks  volumes  for  the 
audacious  character  of  the  writer.  "You  could  not," 
he  wrote  with  horseplay  humour,  "pay  me  in  cash  if 
you  were  to  turn  the  pleasure-garden  of  my  father  into 
a  carp-pond,  or  the  grave  of  my  deceased  aunt  into  an 
eel-swamp  !  "  It  was  little  wonder  that  the  spectacled 
superiors  of  this  defiant  Junker  should  not  have  alto- 
gether treated  him  with  the  deference  readily  paid  by 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  33 

them  to  obsequious  dulness.  Bismarck  soon  after, 
having  occasion  to  return  to  the  country  for  a  time, 
called  upon  his  chief  for  the  purpose  of  asking  a  holi- 
day. The  chief  kept  him  waiting  in  the  ante-room,  on 
the  window  of  which,  to  while  away  the  time,  his  sub- 
ordinate began  to  drum  in  sharp  crescendo-wise  the 
stirring  "  Old  Dessauer "  march,  which  he  has  more 
than  once  referred  to  as  a  kind  of  Paternoster  of  the 
Prussian  patriot.  "  What  do  you  want  ?  "  ^  audacious 
at  last  exclaimed  the  pedantic  chief,  not 
unwilling  to  be  relieved  from  this  martial  accompani- 
ment to  his  red-tape  labours.  "  What  ?  "  returned  his 
subordinate,  with  the  most  innocent  air  in  the  world. 
"  Oh,  I  merely  came  to  beg  for  leave  of  absence ;  but 
now  you  have  given  me  time  to  reflect,  and  I  think  I 
had  better  leave  you  altogether !  "  Surely  his  dumb- 
founded chief  must  have  felt  inclined  to  repeat  the 
words  of  Hamlet  to  Polonius,  when  the  latter  begged 
most  humbly  to  take  leave  of  his  honourable  lord : 
"  You  cannot,  sir,  take  from  me  anything  that  I  will 
more  willingly  part  withal." 

Bismarck  had  been  offered  the  post  of  Landrath,  or 
administrative  chief  of  an  arrondissement ;  but  this  he 
declined,  though  we  have  seen  from  one  of  his  letters 
that  he  once  acted  as  substitute  for  his  brother,  who 
had  been  invested  with  this  function  in  the  district  of 
their  Pomeranian  estates.  Whether  he  humbly  deemed 
such  a  rural  magistracy  above  his  merits,  or  whether, 
feeling  within  himself  the  promptings  of  superior 
power,  he  determined  to  wait  for  higher  things, 

D 


34  PRINCE   BISMAROK. 

does  not  appear;  but  it  is  certain,  at  least,  that  about 
this  time  he  was  tortured  with  doubts  as  to  the  true 
in  doubt  as  to  direction  of  his  future  career.  It  is  even  said 
Ber*  that  he  seriously  thought  of  going  abroad 
— a  scheme,  as  one  writer  observes,  which  makes  the 
mind  involuntarily  turn  to  Cromwell,  who  once  intended 
to  embark  for  America  on  the  eve  of  the  Long  Parlia- 
ment. There  was  still  no  National  Assembly  for  him  to 
enter,  and  to  aspire  to  a  seat  in  a  local  Diet  was  to  be 
animated  with  the  ambition  of  a- vestryman.  A  country 
magistracy  could  not  tempt  him.  With  all  his  love  of 
soldiering  he  felt  conscious  of  powers  that  would  be 
thrown  away  on  the  army  in  piping  times  of  peace ;  and 
the  only  thing  for  him  to  do,  therefore,  was  to  stick  to 
his  farming  till  circumstances  already  in  the  mould  of 
time  should  shape  his  future  path. 

Meanwhile,    he    sought    occasional    distraction    in 

travel  from  the  cares,  and  doubts,  and  dissipations  that 

beset  him — visiting",  among  other  countries, 

In  England. 

France  and  England,  to  both  of  which  he 
was  afterwards  to  return  under  greatly  altered  condi- 
tions. His  own  account  of  his  first  impressions  of 
England  is  amusing.  Landing  at  Hull  on  a  Sunday 
he  began  to  whistle  gaily,  but  was  instantly  checked 
by  a  Sabbatarian  native  who  solemnly  reminded  him 
that  it  was  the  first  day  of  the  week.  Disgusted 
beyond  measure  by  this  "  perfectly  horrible  tyranny  of 
keeping  holy  the  Sabbath,"  Bismarck  turned  at  once 
upon  his  heel  and  set  sail  for  Edinburgh,  "  as  I  did  not 
choose  not  to  be  able  to  whistle  when  I  had  a  mind  to" 


YOUTH   AND    EARLY  MANHOOD.  35 

- — which  betrayed  a  truly  touching1  ignorance  in  the 
traveller  as  to  the  relative  state  of  Sabbatarian  liberty 
in  the  sister  kingdom.* 

A    powerful    swimmer    and    a    fearless   sailor,  he 
was  also  a  frequent  visitor  to  the  watering-places  of 
his  own  country,  and  took  supreme  delight        Holiday 
in  "  grasping  a  herring  with  his  own  hands 
in  the  depths  of  the  Baltic."     One  of  his  letters  humor- 
ously describes  the  incidents  of  a  sojourn   he  made  in 
the  island  of  Norderney  in  the  autumn  of  1844,  where 


*  Once,  in  relating  this  story  in  the  Reichstag  (9th  May,  1885)  in  con- 
nection with  a  debate  on  compulsory  Sunday  observance  (which  he  refused 
to  advocate  in  the  Federal  Council),  Bismarck  said : — "  I  must  say  that 
when  I  was  in  England  I  always  had  a  painful  and  uncomfortable  im- 
pression of  the  English  Sunday ;  and  I  was  always  glad  when  it  was  over. 
I  am  sure,  too,  that  many  Englishmen  had  the  same  feeling  about  it,  for 
they  sought  to  accelerate  the  march  of  time  (on  that  day),  without  wit- 
nesses, in  a  manner  which  I  would  rather  not  characterise,  and  were  over- 
joyed when  Monday  dawned.  Whoever  has  lived  in  English  society  will 
understand  what  I  mean.  On  the  other  hand,  if  you  go  into  t!ie  country 
around  Berlin,  if  it  does  not  exactly  happen  to  be  near  a  brewery,  and  look 
at  the  villages,  you  are  pleased  with  the  appearance  of  the  people  in  their 
holiday  garb,  and.  thank  God  that  we  live  not  under  the  yoke  of  an  Eng. 
lish  Sunday."  By  one  deputy  reference  had  been  made  to  Sunday  obser- 
vance in  England  and  America,  and  to  the  consequent  superiority  of  these 
countries  to  Germany  from  an  industrial  point  of  view.  But  the  Prince 
contended  that  this  alleged  superiority  was  due  to  very  different  causes — 
in  England,  more  especially,  to  the  fact  of  its  possessing  great  contiguous 
stores  of  coal  and  iron,  and  to  the  further  circumstance  that  it  enjoyed  a 
start  of  several  centuries  in  the  race  of  civilisation.  It  could  be  estimated, 
said  the  Chancellor,  from  many  indications,  that  in  the  time  of  Shake- 
speare, or  about  three  centuries  ago,  there  was  in  England  a  degree  of 
material  comfort,  civilisation,  and  literary  development  which  Germany 
was  then  far  from  possessing.  Germany  had  been  thrown  back  by  the 
Thirty  Tears'  War  more  than  any  other  nation.  Nevertheless,  he  could 
not  admit  that  the  English,  on  the  whole,  were  better  Christians  than  his 
own  countrymen ;  and,  as  for  Sunday  observance,  there  was  a  great  deal  of 
mere  habit  in  it. 

D   2 


36  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

his  table  d'hote  companions  were  a  "  scraggy  Danish  lady," 
who  "  filled  him  with  sadness  and  homesickness ; "  a 
"  Eussian  officer,  built  like  a  hootjack ; "  and  an  old 
Prussian  minister  with  a  nightmare  kind  of  figure — "  a 
fat  frog  without  legs  who  opened  his  mouth  as  wide  as 
his  shoulders,  like  a  carpet  hag,  for  every  morsel,  com- 
pelling his  vis-a-vis  to  cling  to  the  table  for  sheer  giddi- 
ness." He  "  made  excellent  friends,"  too,  with  the 

sea,  and  found  himself  as  much  at  ease  in 
At  sea. 

the  bilge  of  a  fishing  boat  as  on  the  back 
of  a  horse — an  accomplishment  which  must  have  stood 
him  in  great  stead  when,  with  "  Tomke  Hams/'  he  was 
"  knocked  about  for  twenty-four  hours  in  a  small  boat, 
with  not  a  dry  stitch  on,  but  with  plenty  of  ham  and 
port  wine,  by  a  storm  which  threw  up  twenty  vessels  of 
various  nationalities  on  the  islands  round  about."  Sail- 
ing out  for  some  hours  every  day  in  order  to  enjoy 
fishing  and  seal-shooting,  he  only  managed  to  kill  one 
of  these  creatures  "  with  such  a  gentle  dog -face  and 
large  beautiful  eyes  that  I  was  really  sorry  for  it " — an 
incident  which  should  be  considered  by  those  who  assert 
that  there  is  nothing  whatever  in  the  Chancellor  but 
iron,  and  that  he  can  gaze  upon  a  ghastly  battlefield 
of  his  own  creation  without  ever  so  much  as  wincing. 

Meanwhile,  great  national  events  were  beginning 
to  ripen,  and  private  ones,  too,  tended  to  shape  his 
Public  ana  Pri-  public  attitude  to  them.  By  the  death 
Qts'  of  his  father,  in  1845,  the  family  property 
was  re-divided  between  the  two  brothers;  Bis- 
marck himself  receiving  Kniephof,  one  of  the  three 


TOUTS  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  87 

Pomeranian  estates,  and  also  the  ancestral  seat 
at  Schonhausen,  to  which  he  now  repaired  for 
good.  For  the  next  two  years,  therefore,  he  con- 
tinued his  country  life  as  before,  though  not  of  the 
pleasantest,  being  much  engrossed  with  "lawsuits, 
sporting  matters,  and  embankment  affairs."  For  he  had 
been  appointed  district  Superintendent  of  the  Elbe 
Dykes,  an  unsalaried  public  office  he  was  all  the  readier 
to  undertake,  as  its  careful  performance  materially, 
affected  the  state  of  his  own  property.  That  his 
thoughts,  however,  were  not  wholly  taken  up  with 
floods  and  failing  crops  we  see  from  a  letter  to  his 
sister,  wherein  he  announces  his  intention  of  "  carrying 
off  your  husband  to  a  sitting  of  the  Society  for  Im- 
proving the  Lot  of  the  Working  Classes,  to  be  held  at 
Potsdam  on  the  7th  March  "  (1846).  But  beneficence, 
like  charity,  begins  at  home,  and  we  also  gather  that 
it  was  now  his  chief  aim,  not  so  much  to  better  the 
state  of  others,  as  to  ameliorate  his  own.  We  hear  of 
his  having  been  previously  "in  love  for  twenty-four 
hours ; "  but  about  the  time  of  his  father's  death  he 
became  alive  to  the  terrible  truth  that  he 


"  must  marry,  the  devil  take  me,     ....     I  feel  lonely  and  for- 
saken, and  this  mild,  damp  weather  makes  me  melan- 
choly and  longingly  prone  to  love It  is 

no  use  my  struggling.  I  shall  have  to  marry ;  every- 
body wills  it  so,  and  nothing  seems  more  natural,  as  both  of  us  have 
been  left  behind.  She  makes  no  impression  on  me,  it  is  true,  but 
that  is  the  case  with  all  of  them;  still,  fortunate  are  those  who  cannot 
change  their  inclination  with  their  linen — however  seldom  the  latter 
event  may  occur  |  " 


38  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

But  there  was  one  exception  to  the  rule  in  the 
person  of  Johanna,  the  daughter  of  Heinrich  von 
The  lad  ofhia  Puttkamer,*  of  Viatlum  in  Pomerania;  and 
this  young  lady  Bismarck  asked  to  become 
his  wife.  But  the  careful  parents,  well  aware  of  the  awful 
reputation  of  the  wooer,  were  much  less  enamoured  of 
him  than  was  their  only  daughter ;  and  they  could  only 
he  brought  to  surrender  their  treasure  after  a  method 
of  attack  which  was  unconscious  training  for  the  man 
who  was  afterwards  to  force  the  capitulation  of  Paris. 
On  the  28th  of  July,  1847,  Bismarck  was  married  to 
this  lady,  who  was  nine  years  his  junior,  but  the  ideal 
of  a  German  wife;  and  a  union  was  thus  formed  in 
which  the  most  unscrupulous  enemies  of  the  Prince 
have  never  even  affected  to  find  the  slightest  flaw.f 

*  A  near  relative  of  that  Herr  von  Puttkamer  who  was  afterwards 
chosen  by  the  Chancellor  to  succeed  Dr.  Talk,  Minister  of  Public  Worship, 
when  the  author  of  the  May  Laws  resigned  office  on  its  being  found  ex- 
pedient to  temper  the  too  vigorous  operation  of  these  Draconian  Edicts, 
and  pave  the  way  for  peace  between  Church  and  State. 

f  Of  this  marriage  the  issue  were  one  daughter  and  two  sons.  Marie 
Elizabeth  Johanna,  born  21st  August,  1848,  was  married,  November,  1878, 
to  Count  Kuno  Rantzau,  member  of  a  Schleswig-Holstein  family,  and 
employed  in  the  German  Foreign  Office.  By  this  alliance  the  Chancellor 
has  repeatedly  been  made  a  grandfather.  The  Countess  Marie  Bismarck 
had  been  previously  engaged  to  a  Count  Eulenburg,  who  died  of 
typhus  fever  at  Varzin,  while  on  a  visit  to  his  betrothed.  Of  the  two  sons, 
the  elder,  Count  Herbert,  was  born  28th  December,  1849,  and  after 
studying  at  Frankfort,  Berlin,  and  Bonn,  joined  the  1st  Prussian  Dragoon 
Guards  as*  a  one-year  volunteer,  serving  against  the  French  in  1870.  In 
1873  he  entered  the  Foreign  Office,  and  was  attached  to  missions  at 
Munich  and  Dresden  successively,  becoming  then  Secretary  of  Legation 
at  Bern,  though  continuing  to  act  mainly  as  private  secretary  to  his  father. 
In  1878  he  acted  as  one  of  the  assistant  secretaries  to  the  Congress  of 
Berlin ;  and  after  being  attached  to  the  German  Embassies  at  London  and 
St.  Petersburg,  he  was  made  Minister  at  the  Hague,  as  a  preliminary  step 


YOUTH  AND   EARLY  MANHOOD.  89 

Though  the  Prince  actually  married  after  entering 
Parliament,  we  have  thought  it  right  to  anticipate  by  a 
few  months  the  main  private  event  of  his  life,  the  better 
to  give  a  rounded  unity  to  our  story ;  but  we  must  now 
close  this  chapter,  which  was  merely  intended  to  por- 
tray the  Prince's  career  up  to  his  appearance  on  the 
public  stage  of  his  country,  when  our  narrative  must 
necessarily  become  more  political  than  personal.  What 
chiefly  determined  Bismarck  to  reside  in  the  Old  Mark, 
instead  of  in  Pomerania,  was  the  fact,  as  we  have 
seen,  that  he  was  made  a  District  Water  Bailiff  of 
the  Elbe,  added  to  the  certain  prospect  of  his  being 
returned  to  the  Landtag,  or  provincial  Diet  of  Prussian 
Saxony — one  of  those  eight  so-called  auto-  Elected  to  the 
nomic  Assemblies,  or  Zemstvos,  which  were, 
all  the  Prussian  people  had  hitherto  attained  in  the 
shape  of  representative  government.  Elected  he  was, 
too,  as  vicarious  Knight's  Deputy  for  his  native  arron- 
dissement ;  and  when,  on  the  3rd  February,  1847, 
Frederick  William  IV.,  in  all  the  pompous  generosity 
of  his  divine-right  omnipotence,  deigned  to  decree  the 


to  his  appointment,  in  May,  1885,  as  Under  Secretary  of  State  for  Foreign 
Affairs.  The  Prince's  younger  son  William,  generally  called  Count  Bill, 
in  person  most  resembling  his  father,  was  born  at  Frankfort,  on  1st 
August,  1852  ;  also  studied  for  the  Civil  Service,  though  devoting  himself 
more  to  a  parliamentary  and  administrative  than  a  diplomatic  career.  As 
member  of  the  Reichstag,  he  made  his  maiden  speech  in  the  session  of 
1880  as  champion  of  a  bill  for  the  penal  suppression  of  usury;  but 
though,  like  his  father,  no  orator,  he  is  a  steady  Conservative  voter. 
Count  Bill  also  joined  the  army,  and  both  brothers,  when  mere  lads,  were 
wounded  in  the  brilliant  and  sacrificial  charge  of  the  Prussian  Dragoon 
Guards  at  Mars-la-Tour.  In  1885  he  married  his  cousin,  Sibylla  von  Arnim- 
Krochlendorff,  the  daughter  of  the  Chancellor's  only  sister. 


40  P&INGE   BISMAROK. 

formation  of  a  quasi-Parliament  consisting  of  the  eight 
united  Diets  of  the  monarchy,  Herr  von  Bismark- 
Schonhausen  (for  thus  the  name  is  spelt  in  the  records 
of  the  time)  repaired  to  Berlin  as  knightly  substitute 
for  the  real  representative  of  his  district,  who  had  fallen 
ill. 

At  this  time  Bismarck  was  in  his  thirty-second 
year,  in  the  bloom  of  early  manhood ;  of  very  tall, 
stalwart,  and  imposing  mien,  with  blue, 
penetrating,  fearless  eyes;  of  a  bright, 
fresh  countenance,  with  blond  hair  and  beard — a  singular 
contrast  to  the  appearance  of  the  bald  and  grizzly  eye- 
browed  Chancellor,  after  the  fire  of  youth  had  gone  out 
and  left  his  thick  moustache  in  ashes. 


CHAPTEE  II. 

PARLIAMENTARY      CAREER. 
1.  —  Prussian  Constitutionalism. 

BISMARCK'S  career  as  a  parliamentary  deputy  lasted, 
with  several  intervals,  for  about  four  years  —  or  from 
April,  1847,  till  May,  1851  —  when  he  was 
appointed  secretary  to  the  Prussian  repre- 


sentative  at  the  Germanic  Diet  ;  and  in 
the  comparatively  few  speeches  he  made  during  this 
time  —  for  he  was  probably  the  least  loquacious  of  all 
his  fellow-members  —  the  whole  political  character  of 
the  man  was  plainly  revealed.  By  his  intimate  friends 
he  had  hitherto  been  regarded  as  "  somewhat  of  a 
Liberal,"  but  it  will  be  for  the  reader  to  determine  how 
far  the  estimate  was  just.  The  better,  however,  to 
realise  the  peculiarity  of  his  political  views,  let  us  briefly 
consider  the  antecedents  and  nature  of  the  singular 
Assembly  in  which  he  first  expressed  them. 

At  the  beginning  of  the  nineteenth  century  there 
was  about  as  little  representative  government  in 
Prussia  as  in  Turkey  or  in  Timbuctoo,  and  it  said 
much  for  the  comparative  wisdom  of  her  absolute 
rulers  that  they  had  not  hitherto  been  forced  by 
throat-grasping  Revolution  to  share  their  power  with 


42  FRINGE   BISMAROK. 

the    people.       Constitutionalism    is     a     plant    which 

has  never   been   found   to   thrive  in  the  same  garden 

with  the  doctrine  of  divine  right,  and  this  principle  of 

Divine  ri^ht      sovereignty  was  never  half  so  vehemently 

asserted  even  by  the  Stuarts  as  by  the 
Hohenzollerns.  Frederick  I.,  in  1701,  placed  the  crown 
upon  his  own  head  in  token,  not  that  he  had  bribed  and 
bargained  it  out  of  Kaiser  Leopold,  as  was  the  sober 
truth,  but  that  he  had  received  it  without  episcopal 
mediation  direct  from  the  King  of  Kings  ;  and,  during 
the  whole  of  his  reign,  the  sole  Constitution  enjoyed  by 
his  subjects  was  summed  up  in  the  maxim  —  A  Deo  Eex, 
a  Rege  Lets.  The  only  Parliament  ever  summoned  by 
his  successor,  Frederick  William  I.,  was  the  famous 
tobacco  one,  while  the  estates  of  the  realm  during  the 
long  reign  of  his  son,  Frederick  the  Great,  all  sat  under 
the  King's  three-cornered  hat. 

That  the  solid  political  fabric  erected  by  the  hero  of 
the  Seven  Years'  War  came  to  utter  and  disgraceful 
ruin  within  a  few  short  years  of  his  death  was  mainly 
due  to  the  fact  that  his  successor,  Frederick  William  II., 

surnanied  "The   Fat/'  was  too  little  of  a 


despot  to  support  it  himself,  yet  too  much 
of  a  tyrant  to  permit  the  legislative  co-operation  of  his 
people.  Not  content,  moreover,  with  further  enslaving 
his  own  subjects  —  for  he  had  cancelled  some  of  the 
liberties  conferred  upon  them  by  his  predecessor  —  this 
obese  ruler  by  the  grace  of  Grod  interfered  with  armies 
to  quench  the  infectious  fever  of  popular  freedom  in 
France  and  Poland,  and  was  within  a  very  little  of 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  43 

marching  his  troops  into  Austria  with  similar  intent. 
Feeble,  sensual,  indolent,  and  dreamy,  he  allowed  him- 
self to  become  the  instrument  of  a  hated  knot  of  worth- 
less favourites ;  hut  though  the  camarilla  of  a  military 
autocrat  is  a  long  way  from  the  Constitution  of  a  free 
people,  it  is  still  not  altogether  unlike  the  thin  end  of 
the  wedge.  His  follower,  Frederick  William  III.,  while 
free  from  most  of  his  father's  degrading  vices,  inherited 
to  the  full  his  notorious  incapacity  to  rule,  with  the 
same  absurd  notions  of  divine  right,  and  the  same 
insuperable  aversion  to  popular  forms  of  government; 
but,  while  as  much  dependent  on  private  counsellors,  he 
was  fortunate  in  being  forced  by  circumstances,  rather 
than  impelled  by  his  own  sagacity,  to  adopt  the  services 
of  several  ministers  equally  renowned  for  their  talents 
and  their  patriotism. 

Even  before  the  death  of  the  great  and  popular 
Frederick,  the  Prussians  had  begun  to  manifest  a  growing 
discontent  with  their  enthralled  condi-  TheLiberation 
tion ;  *  and  early  in  the  reign  of  his  grand- 
nephew,  whose  evil  lot  fell  on  the  cataclysmic  times 
of  Napoleon,  there  were  signs  that  the  patience  of 
his  much-enduring  subjects  could  not  be  very  much 
longer  tried.  The  heroism  with  which,  early  in 
the  century,  the  Prussian  people  finally  rose  in  arms 
and  expelled  their  French  oppressors,  forms  the  most 
brilliant  page  in  all  their  brilliant  history ;  but  that 

*  "  The  Prussians,"  said  Bismarck  once,  "  shouted  at  the  victories  of 
Frederick  the  Great,  but  at  his  death  they  rubbed  their  hands  with  joy  at 
seeing  themselves  delivered  from  their  tyrant." — "  L'Oeuvre  de  M.  de 
Bismarck" par  M.  Vilbort,  p.  213. 


44  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

heroism,  it  is  certain,  was  inspired  as  much,  by  the  ambi- 
tion to  get  rid  of  their  own  domestic  yoke  as  to  burst 
the  bonds  of  foreign  sway.  Bismarck  once  angrily  pro- 
tested against  this  view  ;  *  but  though  it  has  been  given 
the  Prince  to  guide  the  course  of  his  country's  history, 
none  of  his  blindest  adorers  have  ever  yet  contended 
that  his  power  can  avail  to  reverse  the  facts  of  it. 

It  is  no  part  of  our  design  fco  detail  the  vicissitudes 
of  the  Liberation  War,  and  to  trace  their  effect  on  the 
constitutional  history  of  Prussia.  Enough  to  know  that 
— between  the  year  1806,  when  the  monarchy  collapsed, 
and  1813,  when  it  was  again  triumphantly  purged  of  its 
invaders — the  King  was  constrained  to  issue,  among  other 
municipal  and  administrative  reforms,  his  famous  Eman- 
cipation Edict. f  And  what  was  its  effect? 

Emancipation 

Skk  w2S£  On  the  disastrous  battle-field  of  Jena  the 
Prussian  army  had  been  mainly  composed 
of  indifferent  and  dejected  serfs ;  at  victorious  Leipzig 
its  ranks  were  filled  with  loyal  and  enthusiastic  freemen. 
National  calamity,  strange  to  say,  had  brought  personal 
liberty  to  the  great  mass  of  the  Prussian  people ;  and 
they  now  hoped  that  a  successful  effort  to  rid  their 
country  of  an  alien  usurper  might  also  win  them  a 
further  measure  of  civil  freedom.  But  they  were  dis- 
appointed. They  did  the  heroic  work  demanded  of 
them  by  their  ruler,  but  received  not  the  expected 

*  See  p.  54  post. 

f  Decreeing  inter  alia  free  exchange  in  land  and  free  choice  of  occupa- 
tion, extinction  and  consolidation  of  peasant  holdings  -with  the  abolition  of 
villeinage :  justly  described  by  Professor  Seeley  (in  his  "  Life  and  Times 
pf  Stein")  as  a  sort  of  Prussian  Magna  Charta. 


PARLIAMENTARY  CAREER.  45 

leward.  Napoleon  escaped  from  Elba,  and  Europe  made 
tremendous  efforts  to  abolish  him.  Prussia,  too,  as 
before,  flew  to  arms  ;  and  the  King,  well  knowing  how 
the  Emancipation  Edict  had  acted  on  the  courage  and 
self-sacrifice  of  his  subjects,  wisely  resolved  to  administer 
to  them  another  dose  of  the  same  miraculous  medicine, 
or  at  least,  as  it  turned  out,  a  well-concocted  counterfeit 
thereof. 

From  Vienna,  therefore,  whither  Frederick  William 
had  repaired  to  take  part  in  the  re- construction  of 
Europe,  he  issued  an  ordinance  promising  his  people  a 
written  Constitution  and  a  representative  Assembly. 
Nerved  by  the  golden  prospect,  the  Prussian  Delusive 
people  again  did  warlike  wonders;  but,  alas!  lruTsfaen°f  a 

,  «  -r,  .  Constitution. 

on  returning  home  irom  France  to  receive 
their  promised  Charter,  they  beheld  its  already  in- 
distinct form  assuming  ever  smaller  dimensions,  till,  in 
the  process  of  receding  from  their  disappointed  view,  it 
finally  reached  the  vanishing  point.  The  insincerity  of 
the  King,  the  dissensions  of  his  ministers,  and  the 
baneful  influence  of  counsellors  like  Metternich  and  the 
Czar,  all  did  their  work  ;  and  a  period  of  shameful 
reaction  set  in,  which  threatened  to  fling  back  the  nation 
into  the  status  quo.  We  will  not  follow  the  bitter 
political  conflict  which  now  raged  in  Prussia  for  several 
years,  and  which  provoked  the  Government  to  terrorise 
the  party  of  popular  freedom ;  suffice  it  to  say  that  at  last 
the  King's  promise  of  a  representative  Constitution  (in 
May  1815)  took  the  shape  of  an  Edict  (in  June  1823) 
for  the  mere  "  regulation  of  the  provincial  estates,"  and 


46  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

the  triennial  meeting  of  their  Diets.  "  When  it  will  be 
advisable  to  summon  the  general  estates,"  said  the  faith- 
less King,  "  and  how  they  should  be  developed  out  of 
the  provincial  estates,  are  matters  which  we  reserve  to 
our  paternal  care,  in  the  interests  of  the  country,  for 
further  decision."  And  thus,  as  one  historian  remarks, 
Frederick  William  TV.  began  his  public  career  as  Crown 
Prince  by  counselling  this  unhappy  evasion  of  a  solemn 
promise. 

In  1840,  however,  when  he  succeeded  to  the  Crown, 
it  was  confidently  expected  that  he  would  redeem  his 
A  faithless  father's  honour,  and  vindicate  his  claim  to 
be  as  liberal-minded  a  King  as  he  was  a 
cultivated  man.  Great  hopes  were  entertained  of  a 
monarch  who  had  talked  with  enthusiasm  about  de- 
voting his  life  to  the  task  of  bestowing  freedom  on 
Prussia  and  unity  on  Germany;  but  the  nation  was 
bitterly  disappointed.  For  he  had  not  been  two  months 
on  the  throne  when  he  bluntly  told  his  subjects  that  he 
deemed  a  Constitution  unsuited  to  their  wants,  and 
meant  to  stick  to  the  Zemstvo-like  system  still  in  force. 
What  was  worse,  there  was  no  reasoning  with  a  Sove- 
reign who,  as  the  Prince  Consort  of  England  fairly 
judged  him,  adopted  mere  subjective  feelings  and 
opinions  as  the  motive  principle  of  his  actions,  and 
was  as  a  "  reed  shaken  by  the  wind." 

The  truth  is  that  Frederick  William  IV.,  an  ac- 
complished and  amiable  gentleman  in  many  respects, 
was  born  to  be  a  professor  of  the  fine  arts  or  a  teacher 
of  rhetoric ;  but  it  was  a  cruel  freak  of  nature  to  make 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  47 

him  a  King  of  any  kind  whatever.  Of  all  modern 
monarchs  he  most  resembled  James  I.  of  England;  but, 
while  not  a  bit  less  tenacious  than  the  Stuart 
of  the  divine-right  doctrine,  the  Hohenzol- 
lern  was  even  much  more  addicted  to  theology  and  the 
pedantry  of  the  schools.  Strauss,  the  acute  author  of 
the  "  Life  of  Jesus,"  was  one  of  those  who  satirised  his 
crying  frailties  in  this  respect  in  a  pamphlet  entitled : 
"  Julian  the  Apostate,  or  the  Eomanticist  on  the  throne 
of  the  Caesars."  Frederick  William  IY.  did  not,  it  is 
true,  like  James  I.,  tremble  at  the  sight  of  a  drawn 
sword;  but  he  had  few  soldierly  instincts  or  sympathies, 
and  therefore  the  army — tkat  mainstay  of  an  absolute 
monarch — soon  came  to  return  with  interest  the  in- 
difference of  its  chief.  On  the  other  hand,  the  King 
hated  his  bureaucracy,  that  other  pillar  of  the  Prussian 
State,  for  its  rationalistic  bent,  and  was  in  turn  scorned 
by  it  for  his  ardent  orthodoxy.  The  cruel  disappoint- 
ment, too,  of  all  their  dearest  hopes  had  cooled  the 
loyalty  of  the  great  mass  of  the  people ;  and  it  began 
to  seem  as  if  the  only  classes  who  remained  true  to 
Frederick  William  were  the  pietists  and  the  papists. 

But,  though  a  vehement  stickler  for  religious  liberty, 
His  Majesty  still  continued  deaf  to  all  demands  for  fuller 
political  freedom.  Soon  after  ascending  the  throne  he 
had  granted  an  amnesty,  but  that  was  not  a  Charter. 
He  had  called  together  a  mere  Committee  of  the  pro- 
vincial estates  to  discuss  trifles,  but  the  thing  wanted 
was  a  National  Assembly.  And  he  had  relaxed  the 
severity  of  literary  censorship  only  to  bring  forth  an 


48  PRINGE   BISMARCK. 

exasperating  crop  of  pamphlets  assailing  the  throne  and 
clamouring  for  a  Constitution.  It  was,  however,  cha- 
racteristic of  the  King,  who  lived  more  in  a  mystic  and 
mediaeval  dreamland  than  in  his  own  realistic  days, 
that  while  the  intellectual  leaven  of  his  subjects  was 
silently  but  surely  paving  the  way  for  the  catastrophe 
which  was  to  bring  him  to  his  senses,  he  himself  was 
expending  his  fine  enthusiasm  on  the  restoration  of 
Cologne  cathedral,  on  a  mission  to  China,  and  on  the 
creation  of  a  Protestant  bishopric  at  Jerusalem. 

The  King  had  visited  England,  and  been  much 
impressed  with  the  parliamentary  life  of  the  nation,  but 
he  only  went  home  with  a  passion  for  Anglicanising  the 
Prussian  Church.  He  had  in  turn  been  visited  by 
Queen  Victoria  and  her  Consort,  who  gave  His  Majesty 
sound  political  advice,  but  he  still  .found  specious 
reasons  for  not  acting  on  it.  At  last,  however,  it 
became  plain,  even  to  his  prejudiced  mind,  that  he  must 
part  with  some  of  his  absolute  power  if  he  were  to 
The  united  retain  the  rest.  The  literature  of  the  time 
was  already  up  in  arms  against  him,  and 
from  the  operation  of  mind  to  the  action  of  mob  the 
transition  was  swift.  His  best  friends  counselled  con- 
cession, and  a  fanatic  had  tried  to  take  his  life ;  so 
finally,  more  in  reluctant  compliance  with  the  force  of 
circumstances  than  with  his  own  convictions,  he  issued 
an  ordinance  for  combining  the  eight  Provincial  Assem- 
blies of  the  Monarchy  into  one  great  United  Diet. 

Now,  a  word  as  to  the  composition  and  functions  of 
this  embryo  Parliament.  It  was  divided  into  two 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREE&  49 

Chambers,  or  Curiae,  one  of  the  peers,  and  the  other  of 
the  three  estates.  The  latter  was  exclusively  com- 
posed of  representatives  of  the  three  land-possessing 
classes  of  knights,  municipalities,  and  peasant-farmers, 
in  aggregate  number  the  same  as  in  the  local  Diets. 
Now  this  United  Diet  was  to  be  summoned  as  often  as 
the  wants  of  the  State  might  either  require  fresh  loans, 
or  the  introduction  and  increase  of  taxes ;  and  without 
its  sanction  the  King  undertook,  save  in  case  of  war  and 
other  specified  exceptions,  to  do  none  of  these  things. 
Yet  even  these  questions  had  to  be  discussed  by  nobles 
and  deputies  in  common  sitting.  But  with  3^^^  of 
this  qualified  control  over  the  mere  raising 
of  the  revenue — for  the  manner  of  its  application  was 
reserved  to  the  Crown — the  real  authority  of  the  Diet 
ended.  It  was  granted  the  empty  privilege  of  "  ad- 
vising "  the  King  as  to  the  framing  of  laws  affecting 
persons  and  property,  and  also  of  petitioning  him  on 
public  grievances,  though  these  complaints  were  only  to 
be  laid  before  him  if  supported  by  at  least  two-thirds 
of  the  votes  in  either  Curia ;  nor  were  they  to  be  re- 
newed, if  once  rejected,  except  on  fresh  and  sufficient 
cause  shown.  Such,  in  brief,  was  the  nature  of  the 
quasi-representative  Assembly,  or  baby  Parliament,  in 
which  ^  Herr  von  Bismarck- Schonhausen  took  his 
seat.* 

*  There  were  three  other  Bismarcks,  more  or  less  closely  related,  who 
also  sat  as  knightly  deputies  in  the  United  Diet.  Among  the  other  names, 
curious  to  note,  occur  a  Gordon,  a  Douglas,  and  a  Brown — descendants  of 
those  Scottish  adventurers  or  exiles  who  sold  their  valour  to  Gustavus 
Adolphus  and  Frederick  the  Great,  as  indeed  they  could  not  have  sold  it 
to  better  men.  That  the  westward  "  course  of  empire,"  versified  by  Bishop 

E 


50  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

It  was  opened  with  much  pomp  and  circumstance  on 
Sunday,  llth  of  April,  1847,  in  the  White  Saloon,  or 
throne -room  of  the  Old  Schloss  (the  St.  James's  Palace 
of  Berlin).  The  King's  speech  was  a  true  reflection  of 
his  character,  and  must  have  made  his  hearers  doubt 
whether  they  were  listening  to  the  address  of  a  prince 
or  the  vapouring  of  a  professor.  Such  a  piece  of 
confused  rhetoric,  not  unmingled  with  some  little  show 
opening  of  the  °^  reason>  was  never  heard.  His  Majesty 
freely  dealt  in  metaphors,  and  used  adjec- 
tives with  a  profusion  which  moved  the  envy  of  sen- 
sational writers.  He  promised,  he  threatened,  he 
cautioned,  he  stormed,  he  scolded,  and  abjured  God  by 
turns ;  with  one  breath  declaring  himself  the  implac- 
able foe  of  absolutism,  and  in  the  next  almost  vowing 
that,  as  the  heir  of  an  un weakened  Crown,  he  was  firmly 
resolved  to  transmit  its  undiminished  power  to  his 
successor.  His  bewildered  hearers  were  told  that  he 
would  never  have  called  them  together  at  all  had  he  in 
the  least  suspected  they  would  misunderstand  their 
duties,  or  aspire  to  play  the  part  of  "  so-called " 
representatives  of  the  people ;  and  he  hinted  that  unless 
they  behaved  themselves  properly,  and  with  due  regard 
for  his  sovereign  rights,  it  would  be  long  before  they 

Berkeley,  has  a  decided  tendency  to  ebb  may  be  gathered  from  the  fact 
that  a  cursory  glance  through  Prussian  Army  Lists  alone  betrays  such 
well-known  British  patronymics  (most  of  them  now  prefixed  by  von)  as 
Bentinck,  Buchanan,  Bruce,  Campbell,  Clifford,  Collet,  Douglas,  Drum, 
mond,  Ferguson,  Fowler,  Flottwell,  Gibson,  Gordon,  Graham,  Gregorie, 
Hamilton,  Halkett,  Jameson,  Johnstone,  Kennedy,  Knox,  Lawrence, 
Leslie,  MacLean,  Matheson,  Munroy  (Munroe),  Ogilvie,  O'Grady,  Russell, 
Scott,  Spalding,  Sterling,  Stoddart,  Talbot,  Thompson,  Winsloe,  Wright. 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  51 

got  the  chance  of  re-assembling.  He  descanted  on  the 
kingly  great-heartedness  which  had  impelled  him  to 
make  such  large  and  almost  unmerited  concessions  to 
the  spirit  of  the  time ;  and,  referring  to  the  unwritten 
Constitution  of  happy  England,  swore  that  no  power  on 
earth  would  ever  induce  him  to  suffer  a  sheet  of  paper 
to  intervene  between  "  the  Lord  God  in  Heaven  and  his 
subjects."  Other  countries  might  be  so  situated  as  to 
thrive  under  such  conditions,  and  he  could  only  admire 
and  envy  them  for  it.  But  not  so  Prussia,  whose 
political  and  geographical  position  demanded  the  con- 
tinuance of  that  strong  and  centralised  form  of  govern- 
ment analogous  to  the  undivided  command  in  a  besieged 
camp. 

The  United  Diet  had  sat  for  more  than  a  month 
before  Herr  von  Bismarck  opened  his  lips  in  it,  and  even 
when  he  did  rise  it  was  only  to  reprove  and 
protest.  For  he  was  one  of  those  who 
looked  with  disapproval  on  the  concessions  which 
had  been  wrung  from  the  King,  and  he-  was  moodily 
resolved  to  do  all  he  could  to  stay  the  loosened 
stone  before  it  began  to  roll  with  irresistible  force. 
It  was  impossible,  without  previous  parliamentary 
life,  for  party  limits  in  Prussia  to  be  then  so  sharply 
defined  as  they  are  now  ;  but  though  names  had  not  yet 
been  coined,  the  crystallising  process  had  begun,  and 
Bismarck  instinctively  numbered  himself  with  those  who 
beheld  in  the  rising  tide  of  popular  power  a  serious 
danger  to  the  Crown.  In  no  European  country  even  at 
the  present  day,  despite  the  sweeping  reforms  of  Stein, 
E  2 


52  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

does  the  feudal  feeling  of  personal  attachment  to  the 
Sovereign  survive  so  freshly  as  among  the  military 
noblesse  of  Prussia ;  and  about  the  middle  of  the 
century  it  was  still  stronger.  But  among  all  the 
steadfast  vassals  of  the  King  of  Prussia,  Herr  von 
Bismarck  was  probably  the  staunchest.  All  his 
ancestors  had  been  so,  and  it  was  in  his  very  blood. 
When,  therefore,  the  people,  that  new-born  power,  boldly 
demanded  something  of  the  King  which  it  sorely  vexed 
his  heart  to  give,  it  was  as  natural  for  the  Knight  of 
the  Mark  to  spring  up  and  confront  the  unfamiliar 
monster  in  defence  of  his  liege,  as  it  would  have  been 
for  him  in  the  middle  ages  to  assemble  his  retainers  and 
help  in  repelling  some  covetous  violator  of  the  land. 
But  he  was  well  aware  that,  in  defending  the  power  of 
the  Crown,  he  was  also  guarding  the  privileges  of  his 
own  order ;  so  that  his  attitude  to  the  questions  of  the 
time  was  determined  by  self-interest  as  well  as  by  sense 
of  duty,  the  two  strongest  motives  that  can  influence 
human  action;  From  the  very  beginning,  therefore,  of 
his  parliamentary  life,  he  was  the  sworn  King's  Man, 
and  in  very  truth  "plus  royalisteque  le  roi.''  Many  illus- 
trious statesmen  have  commenced  their  career  at  one 
political  pole,  and  ended  it  at  the  other.  But  Bismarck 
has  been  fairly  consistent  all  through. 

We  have  carefully  examined  the  proceedings  of  the 
United  Diet,  and  can  find  no  instance  where  the  appear- 
ance of  Herr  von  Bismarck  in  the  tribune  was  not  the 
signal  for  excitement  and  uproar.  "  Cheers,"  "  deep 
murmurs,"  "  great  tumult/'  "  stormy  interruption," 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  53 

"  commotion,"  "  sensation,"  "  oh,  oh,"  and  "  loud  signs 
of  impatience,"  are  the  only  expressions  used  to  denote  the 
effect  produced  on  the  assembly  by  the  knightly  deputy 
from  Jericho w ;  while  most  of  the  few  speeches  he  did 
make  during  the  session  read  very  much  like  mere 
personal  altercations  with  opponents.  There  was  clearly 
more  explosive  force,  if  less  parliamentary  eloquence,  in 
this  man  than  in  any  of  his  fellow  members.  Bismarck  ^  a 
Indeed,  his  style  of  speaking  was  well 
described  by  one  of  his  own  party,  who  said  that  not 
only  could  it  not  even  boast  of  bad  orators,  but  of  no 
orators  at  all.  For  the  opening  of  the  United  Diet 
found  its  various  parties  as  innocent  of  the  art  of  words, 
as  the  breaking  out  of  the  secession  struggle  in  America 
proved  the  combatants  to  be  ignorant  of  the  art  of  war. 
We  have  already  said  that  Bismarck's  attitude  as 
deputy  was  determined  as  well  by  self-interest  as  by 
feudal  sense  of  duty  towards  his  Sovereign ; 

His  first  vote. 

and  it  is  remarkable  that  his  first  re- 
corded vote  in  the  Diet  was  influenced  by  the  former 
of  these  motives.  The  King,  who  displayed  a  laud- 
able desire  to  complete  the  land-tenure  reforms 
of  Stein,  had  proposed  the  general  creation  of  pro- 
vincial loan-institutions  for  facilitating  the  pecuniary 
extinction  of  certain  burdens  still  attaching  to 
peasant  -  holdings ;  and  Bismarck  voted  with  the 
majority  against  it,  not,  as  he  was  twice  careful  to 
explain,  as  deeming  it  ultra  vires  of  the  Diet  to 
guarantee  the  enterprise,  but  because  he  viewed  in 
the  general  tenour  of  the  bill  an  infringement  of  the 


54  PBINOE   BISMARCK. 

rights  of  those  chiefly  interested — to  wit,  his  own 
propertied  class. 

But  the  boldness  with  which  he  defended  the  rights 
of  his  own  order  was  nothing  to  the  vehemence  with 
which  he  struck  out  on  behalf  of  the  Crown.  The 
United  Diet  was  anything  hut  satisfied  with  the  small 
constitutional  beginnings  granted  it  by  the  King.  One 
knightly  member  (von  Saucken)  deplored  the  want  of 
full  accord  between  the  King  and  his  estates,  and,  in  the 
course  of  an  eloquent  appeal  for  heartier  co-operation, 
drew  a  graphic  contrast  between  the  political  and  military 
indifference  of  the  Prussian  people  in  1806,  and  their 
heroic  efforts  in  1813  after  being  inspired  with  the 
emancipating  laws  of  the  interval,  when,  "  placing  the 
throne  upon  their  shoulders,  they  bore  it  on  from  victory 
to  victory  through  streams  of  blood  to  undiscovered 
heights  of  glory/' 

But  there  was  one,  and  only  one  man  in  the  Assem- 
bly whose  haughty  sense  of  patriotism  was  shocked 
by  this  much-applauded  picture,  and  that 

His  theory  of  -.-.-  a .       . . 

the  Liberation  was  Herr  von  ±>ismarck.  starting  up,  he 
vehemently  protested  against  the  state- 
ment, so  "frequently  made  in  connection  with  a 
demand  for  a  Constitution,  that  the  popular  rising  in 
1813  was  attributable  to  any  other  motive  than 
simple  shame  at  subjection  to  the  foreigner."  It  was, 
in  his  opinion,  "  doing  a  sorry  service  to  the  national 
honour  to  suppose  that  the  maltreatment  and  humilia- 
tion inflicted  on  the  Prussians  by  alien  masters  was 
not  in  itself  sufficient  to  make  their  blood  boil,  and 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  55 

subordinate  all  other  feelings  to  hatred  of  the  intrusive 
stranger/'  During  the  delivery  of  these  few  sentences, 
which  received  emphasis  from  the  scornful  look  and 
tones  of  the  speaker,  the  House  was  thrown  into  a 
violent  uproar.  He  was  repeatedly  interrupted  with 
murmurs,  groans,  and  hisses;  but  the  story  is  that  he 
took  up  a  newspaper,  and  affected  to  peruse  it  with 
the  most  serene  indifference  until  the  clamour  had 
abated. 

It  was  not  enough  for  many  ardent  Liberals  that  a 
general  Diet  of  the  nation  had  at  last  been  summoned. 
They  further  demanded  that  the  King  should  be  asked 
to  appoint  them  regular  times  of  meeting,  since  their 
newly-acquired  power  might  plainly  become  a  mere 
mockery  if  it  depended  on  the  royal  will  when  they 
should  use  it.  All  were  ready  to  admit  this ;  but 
opinion  was  divided  as  to  whether  it  were  expedient 
to  press  for  a  settlement  of  the  vital  question  of 
"  periodicity "  so  very  soon.  And  foremost  among 
those  who  earnestly  begged  that  the  King  should  not 
be  pushed  to  the  wall  was  Herr  von  Bismarck,  who 
sneered  at  the  "  goose-quill  arguments  of  newspaper 
writers/'  and  at  the  "public  opinion  of  pot-houses." 

It  was  very  difficult,  hie  said,  to  ascertain  real  public  opinion,  but 
he  thought  he  could  detect  it  in  some  parts  of  the  central  Provinces ; 
and  it  was  the  good  old  Prussian  belief  that  the  word 
of  a  King  was  worth  more  than  all  the  twisting  and      England  and 
turning  of  the  letter  of  the  law.     A  parallel  had  been      pared, 
drawn  between  the  way  in  which  the  English  people 
had  secured  their  rights  in  1688,  after  expelling  James  II.,  and  how 
the  Prussian  nation  might  now  assert  theirs.     But  analogies  of  the 


56  PRINCE   BIS  MAR  OK. 

kind  were  always  misleading.  At  that  time  the  English  were 
very  differently  situated  from  the  Prussians  now,  for  a  century  of 
revolution  and  civil  war  had  invested  them  with  the  power  of  giving 
away  their  crown  under  conditions  that  were  accepted  by  William  of 
Orange;  whereas  the  Prussian  monarchs  possessed  a  practically 
absolute  crown,  not  by  the  favour  of  the  people,  but  by  the  grace  of 
God,  and  they  had  now  voluntarily  parted  with  some  of  their  rights 
to  their  subjects,  a  spectacle  rare  in  history. 

A  flood  of  light  was  thrown  on  Bismarck's 
political  and  religious  convictions  by  a .  debate  on  the 
emancipation  of  the  Jews.  The  King,  who  was  tolerant 
enough  as  a  religionist  if  not  liberal  as  a  ruler,  humanely 
desired  to  complete  the  benevolent  legislation  of  his 
father  (who  had  not  forgotten  his  Semitic  subjects  in 
the  reforming  period  between  Jena  and  Leipzig)- ;  and 
for  this  purpose  demanded  to  know  the  opinion  of  the 
Diet  on  the  draft  of  an  elaborate  law  for  equalising, 
with  some  exceptions,  the  rights  and  duties  of  Jews  and 
Christians  in  his  monarchy.  One  would  have  expected 
that  men  who  talked  so  loudly  and  menacingly  about 
political  justice  as  due  to  themselves,  would  have  also 
been  inclined  to  recognise  the  force  of  their  arguments 
with  respect  to  other's.  But  this  was  not  the  case.  Many 
eloquent  voices,  it  is  true,  were  raised  in  the  Assembly 
on  behalf  of  the  philanthropic  intentions  of  the  King ; 
but  there  were  still  more  who  argued  that  the  time  had 
not  yet  come  for  such  a  sweeping  social 
emancipation  change.  Foremost,  too,  and  most  emphatic 

of  the  Jews. 

among  the  latter  was  none  other  than  Herr 
von  Bismarck,  who  frankly  confessed  that  his  views 
were  of  the  kind  described  by  his  opponents  as  "  dark 


PARLIAMENTARY   OAREER.  57 

and  mediseval,"  and  that  he  still  clung   to  prejudices 
imbibed  with  his  mother's  milk. 

He  was  no  enemy  of  the  Jews  as  men ;  to  a  certain  extent,  in- 
deed, he  even  liked  them.  He  would  even  grant  them  every  right 
short  of  holding  posts  of  authority  in  a  Christian  State.  They  had 
been  told  that  the  idea  of  the  Christian  State  was  an  idle  fiction, 
a  mere  invention  of  modern  philosophers,  but  he  was  of  opinion 
that  the  theory  was  as  old  as  the  $i-devant  Holy  Roman  Empire,  or 
as  the  family  of  European  nations  ;  nay,  that  it  was  the  very  soil  in 
which  these  had  taken  root,  and  that  every  State,  if  it  were  to  last, 
or  vindicate  its  disputed  title  to  existence,  must  repose  on  a  religious 
basis.  For  him  the  phrase  "By  God's  Grace,"  appended  to  the 
names  of  Christian  Sovereigns,  was  no  mere  empty  sound,  but  an 
acknowledgment  rather  that  the  princes  thus  entrusted  with  God's 
sceptre  meant  to  rule  with  it  on  earth  in  accordance  with  His  will, 
as  revealed  in  His  holy  gospel,  and  he  did  not  see  that  this  end  could 
be  in  any  way  promoted  by  the  help  of  the  Jews.  The  very  idea 
of  his  having  to  obey  a  Jew  as  representing  the  sacred  person  of  His 
Majesty  filled  him  with  pain  and  abasement,  nor  was  he  ashamed  to 
say  that  he  shared  this  feeling  with  the  lowest  classes  of  the  people. 
Without,  however,  being  eligible  for  offices  of  the  State,  it  was  the 
prime  duty  of  all  its  Hebrew  subjects  to  lay  down  their  lives  in  single- 
minded  devotion  to  their  adopted  country  ;  nor  would  the  blood  of 
Jews  be  shed  in  vain  if  it  flowed  for  German  freedom,  even  if  their 
own  emancipation  were  not  thereby  also  effected.* 

*  Later  legislation  nominally  conferred  full  civil  and  religious  freedom 
on  the  Jews  in  Prussia,  and  throughout  all  Germany  ;  but  though  Prince 
Bismarck  would  now  doubtless  shrink  from  avowing  the  views  on  the  sub- 
ject expressed  by  him  in  1847,  there  is  every  reason  to  believe  that  the 
disgraceful  Judenhetze,  or  Jew-baiting  mania  which  originated  at  Berlin 
and  passed  over  the  Empire  in  1880-81,  was  partly  persisted  in  under  the 
popular  conviction  that  the  Chancellor,  true  to  the  political  principles  of 
his  youth,  still  secretly  sympathised  with  the  movement.  Interpellated  on 
the  subject  (November,  1880),  the  Prussian  Government  curtly  replied 
that  it  had  no  intention  of  altering  existing  legislation  as  to  the  Jews; 
and  in  the  Reichstag  (2nd  April,  1881),  Prince  Bismarck  sought  to  repel 
the  insinuation  that  Ee  privately  encouraged  Anti-Semitic  Societies, 
remarking  that  he  had  kept  aloof,  as  enjoined  by  his  official  position,  from 


68  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Frankly  and  fearlessly  uttered,  it  was  little  wonder 
that  these  views  caused  a  Liberal  deputy  to  express  the 
great  interest  he  had  felt  in  actually  beholding  the 
"narrow-minded,  mediaeval  Spirit  in  the  very  flesh." 
But  Bismarck's  opinions  were  too  deeply  rooted  to  be 
easily  changed.  He  voted  against  every  new  privilege 
sought  for  the  Jews,  and  the  very  last  words  he  uttered 
in  the  United  Diet,  amid  "repeated  interruption  and 
signs  of  impatience,"  were  that  "  he  denied  that  their 
emancipation  meant  progress,  as  otherwise  the  Diet 
would  have  approved  it." 

After   sitting   squabbling    for  about   eleven  weeks 

the  Diet  was  dismissed.      The  King,  who  was  greatly 

Breaking  up      displeased  with   the   result   of  the  session, 

of  the  Diet.          paid     but     ^^    heed     t()     the     «advice»0f 

his  estates,  and  granted  few  of  their  petitions.  On 
the  other  hand  many  of  the  Liberal  deputies,  especially 
those  from  the  Ehine,  were  greeted  on  their  return 
home  with  public  ovations.  The  constitutionalism 
of  the  King  had  been  tried  and  found  wanting. 
He  had  given  much,  but  his  people  wanted  more.  The 

a  movement  which  was  to  him  "  undesirable."  Despite,  however,  these  high 
assurances,  the  Jew-baiters  pursued  their  baneful  object,  and  (on  13th  April, 
1881)  actually  "  carted  "  into  the  Radziwill  Palace  a  voluminous  petition 
bearing  nearly  a  million  signatures,  imploring  the  Chancellor  : — (1)  to  limit, 
at  least,  if  not  wholly  hinder  the  further  immigration  of  Jews  into  Germany ; 
(2)  to  exclude  them  from  all  offices  of  authority,  and  restrict  their  activity 
in  the  legal  career,  especially  on  the  bench ;  (3)  to  prevent  their  becoming 
teachers  in  Christian  schools,  and  admit  them  only  in  very  exceptional 
cases  to  others ;  and  (4)  to  cause  searching  statistics  to  be  drawn  up  as  to 
the  employment,  &c.,  of  the  Hebrew  population  of  the  Empire.  All  .the 
Chancellor  did,  however,  was  to  acknowledge  receipt  of  this  reactionary 
document  as  if  it  had  been  a  mere  cask  of  "  cloister  brew,"  or  a  roll  of 
ambrosial  sausages  from  some  of  Ms  admirers, 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  59 

former  was  infatuated,  the  latter  resolved.  The  struggle 
between  Crown  and  Crowd  had  already  begun,  and  such 
a  struggle  could  have  only  one  result. 

Bismarck  left  Berlin  in  sorrow.  He  felt  that  a 
serious  crisis  in  his  country's  fate  had  set  in,  and  that 
the  climax  was  fast  approaching.  But  an  equally  im- 
portant moment  for  himself  had  also  arrived.  For  the 
Diet  had  not  long  been  closed  when  he  married,  and, 
forgetting  for  a  while  his  public  griefs  in  his  private 
happiness,  he  gaily  started  off  on  a  wedding  trip  to 
Italy.  It  was  here  that  an  incident  occurred  which 
determined  his  future  career.  Like  Saul, 
who  went  out  to  look  for  his  father's  asses  ttf  wedding 

trip. 

and  found  a  crown,  Bismarck  departed  on 

his  marriage  tour  and  returned,  so  to  speak,  with  his 

blank  appointment  as  a  Prussian  Minister. 

Strangely  heedless  of  the  storm  that  was  brewing 
around,  Frederick  William  IV.  had  no  sooner  piloted 
the  ship  of  State,  as  he  complacently  thought,  through 
the  first  threatening  breakers  of  democratic  demands 
than,  tossing  the  helm  to  his  brother  the  Prince  of 
Prussia  (afterwards  German  Kaiser),  he  lightly  leapt 
ashore  and  made  for  careless  Italy.  At  Venice  the 
King  heard  of  Herr  von  Bismarck,  who  "  happened  to 
be  passing  just  then,"  if,  indeed  the  patriotic  subject 
had  not  carefully  studied  his  opportunity  of  approaching 
his  Sovereign  for  the  purpose  of  uttering  to  him  a  kind 
of  Lochiel  warning.  The  mole-eyed  Press  had  not  yet 
discovered  the  man  who  was  destined  to  supply  it  with 
such  boundless  acres  of  leading- article  matter;  but  the 


60  PEINOE   BISMARCK. 

acute  King,  who  had  carefully  read  the  debates  in  the 
Diet,  had  done  so,  and  he  was  now  glad  of  the  chance 
of  knowing  more  of  the  pugnacious  knight  whose 
behaviour  in  Parliament  had  excited  his  curiosity,  if  not, 
perhaps,  always  won  his  approval.  Herr  von  Bismarck, 
A  Lochiei-iike  therefore,  was  commanded  to  dine  at  the 
royal  table,  and  invited  to  speak  out  frankly 
on  the  subject  of  Prussian  and  of  Grerman  politics.  The 
details  of  that  conversation  have  not  yet  been  divulged, 
but  it  is  certain  that  Bismarck  boldly  urged  those 
reactionary  views  both  on  the  Constitutional  and  the 
Unity  question  which  characterised  all  he  said  and 
wrote  at  this  time.  It  delighted  the  Hamlet-hesitating 
monarch  to  hear  his  own  real  opinions  expressed  by  a 
man  to  whom  thought  and  action  were  equivalent  terms, 
and  he  determined  to  keep  his  eye  upon  him.  But 
meanwhile  His  Majesty  continued  under  the  influence 
of  musty  theorists  like  Savigny,  and  "  masthead  "  coun- 
sellors like  Bunsen.* 

It  was  unfortunate,  however,  that  even  those  who 
were  entrusted  with  "  masthead "  duties  in  the  State 
did  not  sooner  discern  the  rocks  towards  which  it  was 
rapidly  drifting.  The  internal  condition  of  the  country 
was  growing  deplorable.  Political  disaffection  was 
aggravated  by  social  distress  ;  and  a  responsive  sigh  of 
relief  greeted  the  startling  news  from  Paris,  that  the 

*  "  Lastly  it  has  become  ever  clearer  to  me  that  by  nature  and  circum- 
stances I  am  so  constituted  as  to  be  only  then  politically  serviceable  when, 
watching  from  the  prow  or  top-mast,  I  can  give  timely  notice  of  storms  or 
rocks  appearing  on  the  horizon,  but  not  if  placed  at  the  helm," — 
of  Baron  Bnnsen,  Letter  to  a  Son,  ii.  142, 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREE&  61 

"  Citizen  King  "  had  been  dethroned  and  the  Kepublic 
proclaimed.  The  tidings  acted  like  tinder  on  almost 
every  capital  of  Europe  ;  and  Berlin  was  instantaneously 
fired  as  if  by  a  train  of  powder  which,  extending  from 
the  banks  of  the  Seine  to  the  banks  of  the  Spree — 
through  Cologne,  Mannheim,  Munich,  Karlsruhe,  Darm- 
stadt, Cassel,  Hanover  and  Dresden — had  successively 
exploded  long-stored  mines  in  each  of  these  cities.  The 
King  thought  to  quench  the  kindling  con-  Political  vol. 
flagration  with  a  paltry  pail  of  water  in  the 
shape  of  a  promise  to  confer  "  periodicity  "  on  the  Diet ; 
but,  alas,  he  was  informed  that  a  monster  meeting  in 
his  capital  had  declared  that  harmony  between  Crown 
and  people  could  only  be  secured  by  his  granting 
constitutional  privileges  of  a  full  and  unconditional 
kind* 

The  King,  however,  refused  to  receive  a  deputation 
with  these  demands.  The  Magistrates  and  Town  Council 
repaired  to  the  Palace  with  a  much  humbler  list  of 
grievances,  and  were  told  that  His  Majesty  was  too  busy 
to  receive  them.  Addresses  and  petitions  poured  in 
from  all  parts  of  the  country.  Large  and  stormy  public 
meetings  were  held ;  and  Berlin  was  inundated  by  a 
republican  riff-raff  of  Poles,  Jews,  political  refugees, 
and  international  agitators  attracted  from  afar,  like 
the  vultures,  by  the  near  prospect  of  preying  on  the 

*  Of  these  privileges  the  chief  were  freedom  of  speech,  of  meeting, 
and  of  the  Press ;  an  immediate  amnesty  of  all  political  offenders ;  equal 
civil  rights  to  all,  irrespective  of  creed  or  class ;  trial  by  jury,  and  in- 
dependence of  the  bench ;  diminution  of  the  standing  army ;  national 
German  representation,  and  a  speedy  summoning  of  the  United  Diet. 


62  PBINGE   BISMAROK. 

fallen  carcase  of  Absolutism.     Public  disaffection  deep- 
ened  to   fury.      On   the   other  hand,  the   conciliatory 
Anarchy  in      mood  of  the  Government  changed  to  stern 

Berlin.  PIT  mi 

rerusal  and  repression.  The  garrison  was 
strengthened,  adjutants  and  orderlies  galloped  madly 
about,  and  cannon  were  trailed  menacingly  through  the 
streets.  A  large  crowd  was  dispersed  by  cavalry,  and  on 
four  successive  evenings  the  pavements  were  dyed  with 
the  copious  blood  of  the  citizens. 

On  the  15th  March  oil  was  poured  on  the  flickering 
flames  of  revolution  by  the  news  that  it  was  all  over 
with  despotism  in  Vienna,  and  up  once  more  they  fiercely 
shot.  And  again  the  poor  distracted  King  attempted 
to  apply  the  hose  by  promising  to  summon  a  Congress 
of  Princes  for  some  vague  purpose  of  national  reform ; 
but  the  arch-despot  Metternich  who,  with  an  archduke, 
was  to  attend  on  behalf  of  Austria,  had  fled  to  England 
and  left  His  Prussian  Majesty  in  .the  lurch.  The 
anarchy  in  Berlin  was  only  a  reflection  of  the  King's 
mind,  but  while  His  Majesty  was  elaborating  rhe- 
torical addresses,  the  citizens  were  assiduously  studying 
the  art  of  barricades ;  and  to  his  Ministers  and  Generals 
there  was  presented  the  humbling  spectacle  of  a  ruler 
who,  while  perpetually  vaunting  his  resolve  to  restore 
unity  to  the  German  nation,  lacked  the  necessary  nerve 
to  restore  order  in  his  own  capital. 

At  length,  on  the  18th  March,  the  crisis  came. 
Frightened  by  the  alarming  success  of  the  Revolution 
all  over  Europe,  and  by  the  determined  attitude  of  his 
own  subjects,  the  King  at  last  promised  the  necessary 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  63 

reforms.  The  joyful  news  spread  like  lightning,  and 
the  populace  streamed  to  the  castle  to  shout  their  grati- 
tude. The  King  himself  came  forth  to  harangue  (as 
no  one  could  better  harangue)  the  mob ;  but  in  the 
midst  of  their  joyful  excitement  the  populace  caught 
sight  of  troops  within  the  castle  quadrangle,  and 
clamoured  for  their  withdrawal.  Bitter  experience  had 
taught  them  to  distrust  the  word  of  their  King.  But 
instead  of  retiring,  a  squadron  of  dragoons  with  a 
company  of  foot  advanced  to  clear  the  square;  and, 
either  by  accident  or  design,  two  muskets  were 
fired  into  the  crowd.  "Treason,"  "  Bevenge,"  "To 
arms,"  now  resounded  on  every  side,  and  in  a  moment 
all  was  changed.  More  than  200  barricades,  defended 
by  infuriated  burghers,  rose  out  of  the  streets  as  if  by 
magic,  and  the  city  was  soon  a  wild  war-  ^^  Maroh 
scene  of  carnage.  Morning  brought 
physical  victory  to  the  troops,  but  moral  conquest  to  the 
citizens,  of  whom  a  multitude  had  sealed  their  courage 
with  their  blood.  The  wavering  King,  who  had  re- 
peatedly declared  to  imploring  deputations  that  he 
would  yield  to  reason  but  not  to  force,  now  at  last  gave 
way  on  realising  the  piteous  calamity  which  had  re- 
sulted from  what  he. called  a  "  deplorable  misunderstand- 
ing ;  "  and  addressing  to  his  "  dear  Berliners  "  another 
piece  of  that  touching  rhetoric  whereof  he  had  such 
boundless  command,  he  withdrew  the  troops,  dismissed 
his  reactionary  ministers,  amnestied  all  political  offenders, 
stood  unbonneted  on  the  balcony  of  his  castle  as  the 
gory  victims  of  his  vacillation  were  borne  past,  with 


64  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

much  solemnity  and  circumstance,  in  long  procession  to 
their  graves;  and  finally,  scarved  with  a  tri-coloured  flag, 
rode  through  the  street  at  the  head  of  a  motley  crowd 
of  princes,  ministers,  "burgher  -  guards  and  barricade- 
fighters,  one  of  the  latter  hearing  the  banner  of  the 
Eeich,  and  another  a  painted  imperial  crown  ! 

It  was  little  wonder  that,  on  hearing  of  this  circus- 
like  procession,  the  Emperor  Nicholas,  who  used  to 
The  czar's  refer  to  the  King  of  Prussia  as  his  frere-poete, 
her'"  exclaimed:  "  Maintenant  nous  navons  pas 
besoin  de  Leyeard"  (a  favourite  '  art- rider '  of  his  Majesty), 
jeferai  venir  Monsieur  mon  beau-frere"  But  we  will  not 
further  follow  the  stirring  and  complicated  events  of 
this  revolutionary  time,  which  began  with  a  tragedy 
and  ended  with  a  farce.  It  is  enough  for  our  purpose 
to  record,  as  the  main  immediate  result  of  the  whole, 
that  the  King  at  last  promised  his  people  a  written  Con- 
stitution, and  that  the  United  Diet  was  again  convoked 
to  pave  the  way  for  a  Constituent  Assembly. 

On  returning  in  the  late  autumn  of  1847  from  his 
wedding  tour  to  Italy,  Bismarck  had  settled  at  Schon- 
hausen,  the  ancient  seat  of  his  race.  Here,  engrossed 
with  his  newly  found  happiness,  and  devoted  to  country 
pursuits,  he  passed  the  winter  in  private  seclusion ;  but 
he  was  roused  out  of  his  domestic  reverie  by  the  startling 
events  of  the  spring.  The  days  of  March  affected  him 
less  with  surprise  than  with  sorrow,  and  he  had  his  own 
theory  of  their  cause.  "  The  true  motive  power  in  the 
history  of  these  days,"  he  said,  "was  a  mere  lust  of 
theft";  and  all  large  cities,  as  being  the  hotbeds  of 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  66 

covetous  passions  and  of  revolution,  ought,  lie  thought, 
"to  be  swept  from  the  earth" — an  opinion  whjch  pro- 
cured him  the  sobriquet  of  the  Stadt-vertilger, 
or  "Town-Destroyer."  To  Bismarck  the  spirit 
of  revolution  was  nothing  but  the  spirit  of 
robbery.  "I  do  not  think,"  he  said,  "  that  these  evils  can 
be  remedied  by  democratic  concessions,  or  by  projects  for 
a  united  Germany.  The  disease  lies  deeper,  and  I  dispute 
that  there  has  ever  existed  in  the  Prussian  people  any 
need  for  a  national  regeneration  on  the  pattern  of  the 
Frankfort  theories."* 

In  his  retirement  at  Schonhausen,  as  we  have  said, 
Bismarck  looked  upon  the  Revolution  with  wrath,  and 
upon  the  inaction  of  the  Crown  with  Sovereignty  of 
scorn ;  but  what  moved  his  anger  when 
merely  told  of  it  in  the  country  infuriated  him  when, 
in  obedience  to  the  King's  writ,  he  came  to  town 
and  beheld  the  state  of  things  with  his  own 
eyes.  For  a  man  who  spoke  of  the  "  people "  as 
an  intangible  body  which  possessed  not  the  legal 

•  It  is  interesting  to  compare  these  opinions  with  what  he  said  about 
the  same  time  of  similar  movements  in  neighbouring  countries.  "  The 
English  Revolution,"  he  remarked,  "  aimed  at  freedom ;  the  French  at 
equality.  Even  now  any  English  proletary  on  the  street  struck  the 
foreigner  as  being  imbued  with  the  feeling  of  a  manly  independence,  while 
quite  ready  to  recognise  the  higher  social  position  of  a  gentleman ;  but  a 
Paris  workman,  on  the  other  hand,  would  probably  answer  the  questioning 
stranger  with  brutal  incivility  if  better  dressed  than  himself.  English 
freedom  was  characterised  by  the  manly  self-consciousness  which  was 
proud  enough  of  its  own  worth  to  be  able  to  endure  social  superiority ;  but 
French  Equality  was  the  chimerical  Daughter  of  Envy  and  Avarice,  whom 
this  richly-gifted  nation  had  been  chasing  for  sixty  years  of  blood  and 
brainlessness  (Blut  und  Aberwitz)  without  ever  so  much  as  laying  its  hand 
upon  her." 


66  PRlNOfl 

qualities  of  an  individual,  and  had  no  rights  as  opposed 
to  those  of  the  Crown,  it  was  intensely  painful  to  see 
"  national  property "  inscribed  on  the  palace  of  the 
Prince  of  Prussia,  whose  attitude  to  the  Revolution  had 
been  so  construed  by  an  infuriated  populace  as  to  cause 
his  Highness  to  withdraw  for  a  while  to  England.  A 
lodge  of  freemasons  had  even  thrown  out  of  the  window 
the  portrait  of  the  future  Grerman  Emperor.*  Seditious 
placards  arrested  Bismarck's  eye  at  every  street  corner. 
Amnestied  Poles,  Jews,  and  other  rapacious  gaol-birds, 
ranted  about  popular  freedom  on  every  platform,  and 
the  whole  city  fluttered  with  Polish  and  tricolour  flags. 
All  this  was  humiliating  enough  to  a  Prussian  patriot  of 
'  the  stamp  of  Bismarck,  but  it  was  agony  to  his  soul  to 
see  the  matchless  troops  of  his  Sovereign  replaced  by 
slovenly-accoutred  citizens,  who  mounted  guard  with 
an  aggravating  air  of  "  monarch  of  all  I  survey/'  The 
people  had  already  asserted  their  sovereignty. 

But,  firmly  determined  that  he,  at  least,  would  do 

all  in    his  power  to  shake    it,  Bismarck  resumed  his 

The  second      sea^  *n  ^c  United  Diet  (convoked  to  pave 

unitedDiet.      tlie  way  for  ft  Constituent  Assembly),  which 

had  only  four  sittings  (April  2-10).  The  Diet  hastened 
to  vote  an  address  of  confidence  in  the  King  for  all  he 
had  done,  and  all  he  had  promised  to  do,  but  Bismarck 
stood  almost  alone  in  opposing  it. 

The  past,  he  said,  was  buried,  and  to  him  it  "  was  matter  for  more 
painful  regret  than  to  many  of  them  that  no  human  power  was 
able  to  recall  it  after  the  Crown  itself  had  sprinkled  ashes  on  its 

•  Memoirs  of  Herr  Wagener,  Editor  of  the  Kreuz  Zeitung,  p.  50. 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  67 

tomb."  But  though  thus  compelled  to  accept  the  address — for  the 
simple  reason  that  he  was  powerless  to  do  otherwise — he  could  not 
retire  from  the  Diet  with  the  lie  in  his  mouth  that  he  rejoiced  and 
was  grateful  for  what,  to  say  the  least  of  it,  he  regarded  as  the  path 
of  error.  If  success  were  really  to  attend  this  new  endeavour  to 
achieve  a  happier  state  of  things  (in  Prussia),  as  well  as  a  united 
German  Fatherland,  there  would  be  time  enough  for  him  to  thank 
the  author  of  all  this.  But,  meanwhile,  it  was  impossible  for  him  to 
do  so. 

The  Diet  concerned  itself  with  measures  for  the  elec- 
tion of  the  necessary  Prussian  deputies  to  the  pro- 
posed German  Unity  -  Parliament  at  Frankfort,  but 
on  this  subject  Bismarck  was  scornfully  silent.  It 
is  interesting,  however,  to  note,  as  already  indi- 
cating the  favourite  habit  of  his  mind,  that  while 
others  were  engrossed  with  the  domestic  state  of 
the  country,  he  alone  rose  to  press  the  Government  for 
information  as  to  its  foreign  affairs,  and  to  dilate  on  the 
"  apprehension  with  which  he  and  his  friends  gazed 
after  the  Phaethon  flight  of  Prussian  policy  "  Prussia>g 
in  Schleswig-Holstein.  It  was  from  similar  foreign  policy- 
apprehensions,  too,  that  he  essayed  to  bring  the  Govern- 
ment to  book  for  its  pusillanimous  policy  in  Polish 
Posen.  The  fire  of  revolution  had  been  quick  to  spread 
to  this  inflammable  province,  where  the  disaffected 
population  under  Mieroslavski  were  committing  all 
kinds  of  sanguinary  excesses  in  the  desperate  hope  of 
achieving  their  separation  from  Prussia.  Now,  the 
King,  among  the  other  assurances  with  which  he 
responded  to  the  various  demands  of  his  revolutionary 
subjects,  had  promised  the  Poles  of  Posen  a  national 
p  2 


68  PRINCE   BISMAECK. 

reorganisation,  or  qualified  home  -  rule,  while  sending 
troops  among  them  to  restore  order.  But  it  was  charac- 
teristic of  Herr  von  Bismarck  that,  while  heartily 
approving  the  latter  measure,  he  was  by  no  means 
enamoured  of  the  former. 

He  was  firmly  convinced,  he  said,  that  the  reorganisation  of 
the  Polish  nationality  presented  them  with  the  prospect  of  two  alter- 
natives, both  equally  sad  for  Prussia !  The  first  of  these  was  the 
restoration  of  a  Polish  kingdom  within  the  limits  of  that  of  1772 ; 
and  the  second  was 

what  we  unfortunately  cannot  record,  for  at  this  point 
the  voice  of  the  speaker  was  drowned  in  the  impatient 
murmurs  of  the  Diet,  hy  which  he  was  regarded  as  the 
angry  and  unreasoning  spirit  of  protest  and  denial. 

Denial  and  protest  on  every  point.  He  even  in- 
veighed against  the  Government  for  offering  to  remit 
part  of  the  flour-tax,  denouncing  this  as  a  mere  captatio 
benevolentiae,  or  unworthy  means  of  purchasing  peace 
and  order  in  the  larger  towns  ;  while  in  the  country  he 
and  his  friends,  he  said,  were  ready  to  achieve  the  same 
end,  if  need  be,  sword  in  hand.  Nor  would  he  agree  to 
grant  extraordinary  supplies  for  the  military  protection 
of  the  monarchy,  as  well  as  for  the  restoration  of  its 
trade  and  credit.  Whatever  was  required  for  the  army 
he  would  vote -for,  but  the  industry  of  the 
theeprussian  nation  required  no  artificial  stimulants. 

nobility."  1 

Nevertheless  the  Government  got  all  it 
wanted,  and  the  United  Diet  was  dissolved  after  having, 
in  its  four  sittings,  remitted  part  of  the  flour-tax,  voted 
the  Crown  forty  million  thalers,  settled  the  basis  of  the 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  69 

promised  Constitution,  and  passed  an  electoral  law  for  tlie 
return  of  the  National  Assembly  which  should  more  pre- 
cisely shape  it.  On  a  subsequent  occasion  Bismarck 
sorrowfully  referred  to  the  second  United  Diet  as  the 
"  Jena  of  the  Prussian  nobility." 

In  the  Constituent  Assembly,  which  now  met  at 
Berlin  (in  one  of  the  royal  theatres)  to  devise  a  Consti- 
tution for  the  Prussian  nation,  Bismarck  scorned  to  sit, 
and  it  was  perhaps  fortunate  that  he  did 
so  :  for,  with  the  superaddition  of  so  much     constituent 

r  Assembly. 

combativeness  as  lay  in  him,  an  Assembly 
which  constantly  exhibited  scenes  that  vied  with  the 
tumult  of  a  bear-garden,  might  have  been  tempted  to 
come  to  actual  blows.  For  six  long  months  (22nd  May — 
5th  December)  it  sat  squabbling  and  fighting.  Nothing 
would  content  it.  The  King's  very  reasonable  con- 
cessions were  but  as  a  drop  in  the  ocean  of  its  demands. 
Ministry  succeeded  ministry — each  more  liberal  and 
conciliatory  than  the  other,  but  still  the  Assembly  was 
not  satisfied,  and  it  began  to  behave  as  if  it  had  been 
the  Legislative  Body  begotten  of  the  French  Revolution. 
Mob-rule  again  reigned  supreme  in  Berlin,  and  at  last 
resulted  in  such  excesses  that  the  King  decreed  the 
removal  of  the  Assembly  to  Brandenburg,  the  better  to 
place  it  beyond  the  reach  of  democratic  terrorism.  But 
the  deputies  denied  his  Majesty's  right  to  do  so,  and 
would  not  budge  till  they  were  finally  compelled  by  the 
bayonets  of  "  Papa  Wrangel."  Nor  was  it  to  any 
purpose  that  the  Rump  Assembly  afterwards  met  and 
declared  it  legal  for  the  country,  in  the  circumstances, 


70  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

to  refuse  payment  of  taxes.  Very  few  had  the  courage 
to  imitate,  on  slim  authority  of  this  kind,  the  conduct 
of  Pym  and  Hampden,  and  all  resistance  evaporated  in 
empty  talk.  But  though  driven  from  Berlin,  a  working 
majority  of  the  Assembly  could  not  be  got  together  in 
Brandenburg,  so  the  King  at  last  mustered  up  courage 
to  dissolve  it  altogether.  At  the  same  time  he  issued 
on  his  own  authority  a  very  liberal  Constitution 
(identical  almost  with  that  of  Belgium),  of  which  the 
revision  was  reserved  to  the  bicameral  Parliament  (the 
first  of  its  kind  in  Prussia)  summoned  for  the  following 
February  (1849),  on  the  principle,  as  before,  of  universal 
suffrage. 

These  stormy  six  months  had  been  a  period  of  great 

anxiety  to  Bismarck,  who  passed  his  time  alternately  at 

Berlin  and  in  the  country.      It  was  pain- 

wwffofgrape-     ful   to    him    to   see   his    beloved   Prussia 

shot?  , 

thus  sucked  into  the  whirling  torrent  of 
the  time,  with  Democracy  at  the  prow  and  Help- 
lessness at  the  helm ;  and  as  the  news  of  each  suc- 
cessive outburst  of  riot  and  rapine  reached  him  from  the 
capital,  it  was  incomprehensible  to  him  why  the  King 
did  not  immediately  clear  the  streets  with  one  effective 
whiff  of  grape-shot.  When  the  Eevolution  broke  out, 
he  had  counselled  a  remedy  of  this  kind. 

"After  the  days  of  March,"  he  once  said,  "I  remember  that 
the  troops  were  in  Potsdam  and  the  King  in  Berlin.  When  I 
went  out  to  Potsdam  a  great  discussion  was  going  on  as  to  what  was 
to  be  done.  General  Mollendorff,  who  was  there,  sat  on  a  stool  not 
far  from  me,  looking  very  sour.  They  had  peppered  him  so  that  he 
could  only  sit  half  on.  One  was  advising  this  and  another  that,  but 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  71 

nobody  very  well  knew  what  to  do.  I  sat  near  the  piano,  saying 
nothing,  but  I  struck  up  a  couple  of  notes,  '  Dideldum  Dittera '  (here 
he  hummed  the  beginning  of  the  infantry  double-quick  step).  The 
old  fellow  got  up  from  his  stool  at  once,  his  face  beaming  with 
delight,  embraced  me,  and  said,  '  That's  the  right  thing  ! — I  know 
what  you  mean — march  on  Berlin.'  As  things  fell  out,  however, 
nothing  came  of  it."  * 

But,  though  scorning  to  sit  in  an  Assembly  of  demo- 
crats, Herr  von  Bismarck,  like  the  courageous  Dyke- 
Captain  that  he  was,  did  all  he  could  in  a  private  way  to 
counteract  and  dam  the  roaring  flood  of  revolution.  A 
well-defined,  cohesive  Conservative  party  was  not  yet  in 
existence,  but  he  helped  to  form  one ;  and  he  0pPosin  the 
was  one  of  the  chief  contributors  to  its  newly- 
founded  organ,  the  Kreuz-Zeitung ',  of  which,  as  its  pro- 
spectus ran,  the  chief  aim  was  "  to  oppose  with  force  and 
emphasis  the  unchained  demons  of  revolt,  and  to  devote 
especial  attention  to  the  internal  development  of  Prussia 
and  Germany."  We  have  it  on  the  authority  of  the 
first  editor  of  the  Kreuz-Zeitung  himself,  f  that  "  scarcely 


*  "  Bismarck  in  the  Franco-German  War." 

f  "  Meine  Memoiren  aus  der  zeit  von  1848  bis  1866,  &c.,n  von  Hermcvnn 
Wagener  (Berlin,  1884).  It  has  been  frequently  stated  that  Bismarck  was 
one  of  the  founders  of  the  Kreuz-Zeitung,  but  that  he  was  not.  His  name 
is  not  on  the  list  of  original  shareholders,  nor  had  he  a  hand  in  devising  the 
journal,  but  he  was  a  constant  contributor  to  it,  and  received  payment  for 
his  articles.  "  I  knew,"  writes  Herr  von  Unruh  (President  of  the  Con- 
stituent Assembly),  "  that  Bismarck  was  closely  connected  with  the  Kreuz- 
Zeitung,  and  once  asked  him  how  he  could  allow  this  print  to  teem,  as  it 
did,  with  calumnies  and  lies,  not  even  sparing  honest  women.  Bismarck 
replied  that  he  also  was  averse  to  that  kind  of  thing,  but  he  was  told  that 
in  such  a  struggle  it  could  not  be  otherwise ;  and  my  remark  that  such 
weapons  sullied  those  who  used  them  had  no  effect.  I  might  have  then 
concluded  from  the  incident,  what  subsequently  became  quite  evident,  that 


72  PRINCE   BISMARGK. 

a  number  appeared  during  the  sittings  of  Parliament 
which  did  not  contain  a  shorter  or  longer  article  from 
the  pen  of  Herr  von  Bismarck,"  and  that  "  in  every- 
Bismarckasa  thing  relating  to  the  Chambers  he  was  our 
best  contributor."  He  also  took  a  promi- 
nent part  in  organising  some  of  the  political  clubs 
which  then  started  into  life.  But  he  was  no  spouter, 
and  mere  debating  had  much  less  attraction  for  him 
than  the  task  of  drilling  the  awkward  rustics  on  his  own 
estates  for  all  emergencies.  In  Pomerania  he  was 
especially  active  in  fostering  the  inevitable  spirit  of 
reaction  which  had  already  begun  to  show  itself ;  and 
when,  on  his  return  from  England,  the  Prince  of  Prussia 
visited  that  ancient  province,  Bismarck  was  one  of  the 
chief  authors  of  the  loyal  reception  which  cheered  the 
heart  of  the  future  German  Emperor. 

He  was  repeatedly  summoned  to  confer  with  the 
King  at  Sans  Souci,  and  on  one  of  these  occasions  there 
A  political  took  place  a  conversation  which  had  a 
conversion.  marked  influence  on  his  future  career. 
The  King  asked  him  whether  he  approved  his  con- 
stitutional policy,  to  which  Bismarck  boldly  replied 
that  he  could  not  say  he  did.  "  Then  you  are 
not  prepared  to  bear  me  out  in  all  my  liberal  re- 
forms ?  "  "  Well,  to  be  consistent,  no,  your  Majesty !  " 
"  What?  Not  even  as  a  sworn  vassal  of  the  Crown  ?  " 
Bismarck  paused,  reflected,  and  changed  countenance. 


Bismarck  was  not  very  scrupulous  in  the  choice  of  means  to  achieve 
a  definite  end  !  '* — "  Erinnerungen  aus  mewern  Leben"  in  the  "  Deutsche 
Revue,"  for  October,  1881, 


PARLIAMENTARY    CAREER.  73 

The  King  had  touched  his  most  sensitive  chord.  Yes, 
he  would  stand  by  his  Majesty  to  the  very  last,  even  in 
the  rash  and  hopeless  adventure  on  which  he  had 
embarked.*  And  from  that  day  forth  Herr  von  Bis- 
marck became  the  King's  Man  for  good  and  for  ill, 
though  less  from  conviction  than  for  conscience 
sake.  He  had  at  last  reluctantly  accepted  the  Con- 
stitution; yet  not  so  much  that  part  of  it  which 
granted  rights  to  the  people  as  that  which  recited 
the  privileges  of  the  Crown,  and  the  latter  he  now 
resolved  to  defend  from  further  curtailment  with  all  his 
might.  But  for  that  purpose  it  was  necessary  to  have 
a  seat  in  the  Chamber.  So  he  went  and  got  elected 
(for  West  Havelland)  to  the  first  Prussian  Parliament, 
which  had  been  summoned  to  revise  and  sanction  the 
liberal  Constitution  granted  by  the  Crown  (26th  Feb- 
ruary—27th  April,  1849). 

In  addressing  his  constituents  Bismarck  had  declared 
that  "  every  true  patriot  must  support  the  Government 
in  its  new  (liberal)  policy,  in  order  to  Prorai8eand 
combat  the  Eevolution  which  threatened  per 
them  all.  He  himself  was  firmly  resolved  to  make 
the  cause  of  their  Fatherland  his  own,  with  all  his 
strength  and  soul,  and  his  first  endeavour  would 
be  to  re-knit  the  loosened  bonds  of  trust  between 
Crown  and  people."  But  of  this  fair  promise  the 
first  earnest  on  the  part  of  its  maker  was  an  effort 
to  retain  the  people  in  the  arbitrary  power  of  the  Crown. 

*  The  above  story  of  this  conversion  to  constitutionalism  was  related 
by  Bismarck  himself  at  one  of  his  familiar  soirees  in  the  spring  of  1881. 


74  PRINCE   BISMAROE. 

Before  discussing  the  draft  Constitution,  the  Chamber 
naturally  enough  wished  to  get  rid  of  the  state  of  siege 
under  which  the  capital  had  been  placed  by  "Papa 
Wrangel"  after  the  dissolution  of  the  Constituent 
Assembly ;  but  by  Bismarck  this  proposal  was  angrily 
opposed. 

The  arguments  against  the  state  of  siege,  he  said,  had  merely 
been  supported  by  logic  more  imposing  by  its  length  than  by  its 
edge,  and  by  the  usual  rhetorical  talk  about  cannon,  bayonets, 
General  Brennus  and  Junker-Parliaments.  But  it  was  of  much  less 
importance  that  the  Berliners  should  not  be  prevented  from  reading 
their  newspapers  and  attending  their  clubs  than  that  the  representa- 
tives of  the  whole  people,  who  were  assembled  to  deliberate  on  the 
destinies  of  the  country,  should  be  secured  from  insult  and  intimida- 
tion such  as  had  soiled  the  page  of  Prussian  history  during  the  sitting 
of  the  Constituent  Assembly.  As  for  the  vaunted  will  of  the  people, 
that  was  a  most  slippery  and  intangible  thing,  not  always  manifested 
by  majorities.  No  expression  had  lately,  been  so  much  misused  as 
the  word  "People."  Everybody  had  taken  it  to  mean  exactly  what 
served  his  own  turn  ;  generally  a  mass  of  individuals  whom  he  had 
succeeded  in  gaining  over  to  his  views.* 

No  less  hostile  was  Bismarck  to  the  proposal  to 
move  the  Crown  for  an  amnesty  of  all  political  oifences 
committed  since  the  tragic  18th  of  March. 

The  essence  of  the  royal  right  of  pardon,  he  argued,  consisted  in 
its  free  and  voluntary  exercise ;  and  its  too  indiscriminate  use  only 

*  As  a  proof  that  the  spirit  of  revolution  was  still  by  no  means  dead, 
Bismarck  quoted  some  lines  from  a  German  "  Marseillaise"  which  had 
been  sung  by  certain  deputies  on  the  festival  anniversary  of  the  18th  March : 

"  Wirfdrben  echt, 
Wir  fdrben  gut, 
Wirfdrben  mit  TyrannerMut." 

With  whose  blood,  then,  could  they  tell  him,  did  they  mean  to  dye  their 
banner  P  and  the  question  created  a  vehement  uproar. 


PARLIAMENTARY    OAREEE.  75 

had  the  effect  of  blunting  the  popular  sense  of  law  and  justice. 
During  the  March  days,  he  said,  the  King  had  pardoned  mere 
"rebels!"  "Rebels,  rebels  1"  resounded  on  the  indignant  Left. 

"Yes,  gentlemen,  rebels,"  continued   Bismarck,   em- 

.11  i      -^  i  The  Royal 

phasismg  the  last  word  with  angry  tone  and  gesture,  Right  of 

so  that  there  could  be  no  doubt  about  his  meaning. 
No  mediation,  he  said,  was  possible  in  the  struggle  which  had 
shaken  Europe  to  its  root.  One  party  based  its  right  nominally 
on  the  will  of  the  people,  but  in  reality  on  brute  force  and  barri- 
cades; while  the  other  was  founded  on  authority  established  by 
God,  and  maintained  by  God's  grace.  To  one  of  those  parties 
agitators  of  every  kind  were  heroic  champions  of  truth,  freedom,  and 
right ;  to  the  other  they  were  rebels.  No  parliamentary  debates  or 
majorities  could  ever  mediate  between  them,  but  sooner  or  later  the 
God  of  battles  would  have  to  throw  the  iron  dice  and  decide  the 
matter ;  and  thus  the  blubbering  sentimentality  of  the  nineteenth 
century,  which  beheld  a  martyr  in  every  fanatical  rebel,  and  every 
hireling  barricade-tighter,  would,  in  the  end,  occasion  more  bloodshed 
than  a  stern  and  resolute  justice  practised  from  the  beginning. 

This  was  court-martial  rigour  with  a  vengeance,  but 
it  was  only  of  a  piece  with  his  suggestion  about  this 
time  that  "half. a  dozen  drummers  should  be  placed  on 
the  ministerial  bench,  and  that  all  interpellations  should 
be  answered  with  a  roll  of  their  drums  !  "  * 
"  A  Chamber,"  he  said,  "  can  be  much  easier 
mobilised  than  an  army."  One  Liberal  nobleman — Count 
Schwerin — who  acted  as  President  of  the  Chamber,  asked 
Bismarck  what  he  had  against  him.  "  That  you  were  not 
shot  at  the  battle  of  Prague  "  (like  the  great  Frederick's 
General  of  the  same  name),  was  the  curt  reply. f 

Another  Liberal  deputy  who,  piqued  by  the  words  of 

*  Heine  Memoiren,  Ac.,  von    Hermann    Wagener  (ex-editor  of  the 
Kreuz-Zeitung). 
flbid. 


76  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

Bismarck  while  admiring  his  courtesy  in  combat,  offered, 
on  behalf  of  the  Left,  to  spare  his  life  when  they  got 
the  upper-hand,  provided  he  too  would  name  any 
Liberal  he  would  do  the  like  by  if  he  in  his  turn  came 
to  power.  But  the  conditions,  as  being  unequal,  did  not 
satisfy  Bismarck,  since  there  was  no  chance,  he  thought, 
of  the  Left  ever  achieving  leadership,  and  since,  even  if 
they  did,  life  would  become  so  intolerable  that  it  would 
not  be  worth  living.  "No,  no,"  replied  Bismarck, 
"  courteous  to  the  last  rung  of  the  ladder,  but  hang  all 
the  same."  * 

In  the  second  Prussian  Parliament  (7th  August, 
1849— 26th  February,  1850)  to  which  Bismarck  was 
also  re-elected — but  not  without  being  stormed  at,  and 
even  stoned  by  the  mob — the  revision  of  the  Consti- 
tution was  continued  under  the  same  run- 
constitution-  ning  fire  of  criticism  from  the  man  who 

alism. 

had  promised  to  do  all  he  could  to  "  re-knit 
the  loosened  bonds  of  trust  between  Crown  and  people." 
But  nothing  provoked  his  opposition  so  much  as  the 
attempt  of  the  Chamber  to  erase  from  the  Charter  the 
provision  that  "  existing  taxes  and  imposts  will  con- 
tinue to  be  raised."  For  to  the  mind  of  Bismarck  this 
was  a  clear  attempt  to  invest  Parliament  with  the 
power,  not  merely  of  regulating  the  employment  of,  but 
of  altogether  refusing  supplies,  and  thus  of  rendering 
its  will  paramount. 

He  predicted  the  endless  conflicts  that  would  inevitably  arise 
from  such  an  innovation,  and  ridiculed  the  argument  that  it  was  the 

„*  Wagener. 


PARLIAMENTARY    CAREER.  77 

natural  consequence  of  a  constitutional  system ;  the  main  point  for 
consideration,  he  argued,  being  whether  it  would  prove  beneficial  or 
baneful  to  Prussia,  which,  with  its  peculiar  character,  was  not  to  be 
compared  with  other  countries  where  the  word  "  constitution "  was 
very  variously  understood.  The  constitutional  dynasties  of  England, 
France,  and  Belgium,  had  received  their  crowns  "like  a  gift  horse  from 
the  gory  hands  of  the  Revolution,"  with  all  the  conditions  annexed, 
and  the  decline  of  every  German  State  kept  pace  with  the  concessions 
wrung  from  it  in  this  respect.  But  Prussia,  despite  her  voluntary 
concessions  to  the  people,  was  still  the  strong  and  independent 
kingdom  she  had  been  for  centuries,  and  still  inherited  enough  of  her 
old  institutions  to  enable  her  to  save  from  destruction  States  like 
Saxony  and  Baden,  where  disorder,  resulting  from  the  worship  of 
French  constitutionalism,  had  been  greatest.  Nothing  in  the  state 
of  things  across  the  Rhine  encouraged  him  to  don  the  Nessus-robe  of 
French  political  teachers.  As  for  Belgium,  its  constitution  was  only 
eighteen  years  old,  "  a  highly  attractive  age  for  ladies,  but  not  for 
laws,  and  no  one  would  think  of  attaching  much  weight  to  the  ex- 
perience of  a  girl  of  eighteen  even  if  she  had  been  wily  or  wise 
enough  to  repel  the  wooings  of  a  mauvais  stijet"  England,  it  was 
true,  ruled  herself,  although  the  Lower  House  had  the  right  of  re- 
fusing taxes;  but  these  references  to  England  .were  their  bane. 
"Give  us  everything  English  which  we  do  not  have  :  English  piety, 
English  respect  for  the  law ;  give  us  the  entire  English  Constitution, 
but  with  it  at  the  same  time  all  the  conditions  of  English  landlordism, 
English  wealth  and  common  sense,  and  especially  an  English  Lower 
House ;  in  brief,  all  we  do  not  possess,  and  then  I  will  also  say,  '  You 
can  rule  us  in  the  English  way.'  But  even  then  I  would  not  deem 
it  incumbent  on  the  Prussian  Crown  to  let  itself  be  forced  into  the 
powerless  position  of  the  English  one,  which  looks  more  like  an 
ornamental  cupola  of  the  State  edifice,  while  in  ours  I  recognise  the 
central  and  supporting  column.  And  let  us  not  forget  that  England, 
after  settling  the  elements  of  her  Constitution  in  1688,  lived  for  a 
century  under  the  tutelage  of  an  omnipotent  aristocracy  of  a  few 
families.  During  that  period  the  country  got  accustomed  to  the  new 
reforms,  and  it  was  only  at  the  end  of  the  last  century  that  an  active 
parliamentary  life  began  in  England ;  but  the  English  reforms, 
which  partly  broke  the  power  of  the  aristocracy,  and  partly  seemed 


78  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

to  do  so,  are  younger  than  the  Belgian  Constitution ;  and  it  yet 
remains  to  be  seen  whether  these  English  reforms  will  last  for 
centuries,  like  the  previous  power  of  the  aristocracy.  It  may  be 
true  that  if  we  wish  to  swim  we  must  go  into  the  water ;  but  I 
cannot  see,  all  the  same,  why  any  one  who  wants  to  learn  swimming 
should  jump  into  the  water  precisely  where  it  is  deepest,  simply 
because  a  practised  swimmer  can  move  about  there  in  safety.  We 
lack  the  whole  class  which  in  England  devotes  itself  to  politics,  the 
class  of  wealthy,  and  therefore  Conservative  gentlemen,  independent 
of  material  interests,  whose  whole  education  is  directed  with  a  view 
to  their  becoming  statesmen,  and  whose  only  aim  in  life  is  to  take 
part  in  public  affairs." 

Without  such  an  element  in  the  country,  Bismarck 
thought  it  highly  dangerous  to  entrust  mere  "  lottery- 
The  danger  of  drawn  majorities  "  with  the  decision  of 
weighty  questions  of  policy,  and  especially 
with  the  purse-strings  of  the  State.  But,  indeed, 
faulty  to  him  seemed  Qvery  system  of  taxation  which 
would  confer  on  the  people  the  power  of  exercising 
pressure  on  the  -Crown,  of  forcing  ministers  on  the  King 
against  his  will,  of  influencing  his  foreign  policy  (he 
was  always  harping  on  this  chord),  the  management  of 
which  was  his  special  prerogative,  and  even  of  inter- 
fering unduly  with  home  affairs. 

Such  power  (he  argued)  might  very  well  be  claimed  by  a  Parlia- 
ment containing  two  sharply-defined  parties,  whereof  one  formed  a 
sure  and  unwavering  majority  which  subjected  itself  with  iron  dis- 
cipline to  its  ministerial  leaders ;  but  it  was'  certainly  not  the 
function  of  a  body  like  the  Prussian  Assembly,  wherein  votes  were 
the  varying  result  of  a  very  complicated  "  diagonal  of  forces "  of 
from  five  to  six  parties,  not  one  of  which  was  closely  related  to  the 
Cabinet,  and  whose  activity,  therefore,  must  be  essentially  negative. 
All  this,  too,  he  further  contended,  was  aggravated  by  the  fact  that 
even  such  an  Assembly  by  no  means  truly  represented  the  mass  of  the 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  79 

Prussian  people,  its  character  in  this  respect,  for  one  thing,  being 
destroyed  by  the  predominance  in  it  of  the  worst  kind  of  absolutism 
in  the  shape  of  "  privy-councillor  omnipotence,  with  over-weening 
professor-wisdom  and  red-tapism,  which  is  the  necessary  product,  I 
venture  to  assert,  of  that  Prussian  method  of  education  that  robs  the 
individual  experimented  on  of  belief  in  all  authority  in  this  world  or 
the  next,  and  leaves  him  only  faith  in  his  own  wisdom  and  in- 
fallibility." 

In  thus  arguing  against  what  he  held  to  be  parlia- 
mentary encroachment  on  the  prerogative  of  the  Crown, 
Bismarck  was  influenced  by  the  serious  The  ballot.box 
belief  that  the  King  could  do  no  wrong, 
or  would  not,  at  least,  do  so.  The  fate  of  the  country, 
in  his  opinion,  would  be  much  '  safer  in  the  hands 
of  a  wise  despotism  than  of  a  foolish  democracy. 
To  him  the  ballot-box  was  only  a  dice-box.  The 
quadrature  of  the  circle,  he  said,  was  no  less  hope- 
less a  task  than  the  attempt  to  procure  a  representation 
of  all  the  country's  interests,  "not  merely  with  the 
accuracy  of  a  daguerreotype,  but  even  with  the  faithful- 
ness of  a  hasty  sketch." 

These  views  he  had  expressed  during  the  debate 
on  the  composition  of  the  Upper  Chamber,  which 
he  stroDgly  urged  should  be  mainly  filled  with 
a  hereditary  peerage,  instead  of  by  the  elected 
representatives  of  an  exclusive  class  of  landed  pro- 
prietors, as  being  the  "  best  means  of  safely  steering 
the  Prussian  Constitution  between  the  An  hereditapy 
Scylla  of  a  benevolent  sabre-regime,  and 
the  Cbarybdis  of  Jacobin  sway."  A  chamber  of  heredi- 
tary Prussian  peers,  he  said,  "  would  give  the  ship  of 


80  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

State  the  necessary  ballast,  moderating  as  if  by  helm 
and  keel  the  motive  power  of  the  sails  when  bellied  by 
the  breeze  of  the  ('  Zeitgeist?  or  forward)  spirit  of  the 
time/' 

Of  a  piece  with  his  glowing  eulogy  of  the  Prussian 
nobility  was  his  panegyric  of  Prussian  officers,  to  whose 
virtues,  he  argued,  it  was  mainly  due  that  the  country 
had  been  preserved  from  utter  anarchy  and  ruin  by  the 
Eevolution.  "  As  a  body,"  he  said,  "  they  were  the  envy 
of  all  war- waging  peoples,  and  could  alone  at  the  head 
The  Prussian  °^  a  ref°rme(i  an(^  augmented  army  form 
the  basis  of  a  bold  and  glorious  policy  for 
Prussia."  Nothing,  perhaps,  is  more  remarkable  in  the 
career  of  the  Unifier  of  Germany  than  the  fact  that  it 
was  he  who  first  called  serious  attention  to  the  state  of 
the  tool  with  which  he  was  to  do  his  work.  By  a  rigid 
system  of  economy  the  finances  of  Prussia  had  been 
greatly  improved,  but  they  had  only  been  bettered  at 
the  expense  of  her  defensive  power.  That  the  army  was 
not,  in  the  eyes  of  patriots  like  Bismarck,  what  it  should 
have  been,  was  proved  by  the  fact  that  Frederick 
William  hesitated  to  make  it  the  instrument  of  German 
unity,  and  that  instead  of  going  to  war  with  Austria  he 
went  to  Olmutz.*  When,  therefore,  in  the  spring 
sessions  of  1850  and  1851,  the  Chamber  showed  signs 
of  a  desire  to  indulge  in  further  military  retrenchment, 
Bismarck  compared  its  conduct  with  the  "  ignorant 
niggardliness  of  Joseph  Hume,"  and  pleaded  hard  for 
observance  of  the  "  maxim  of  Montecuccoli,  that  war 

*  See  further  on. 


PARLIAMENTARY  CAREER.  81 

requires:  1,    money;    2,    money;  and   3,    much   more 
money  than  there  is  in  this  budget/' 

He  had  previously  referred  to  the  army  as  "  Prussia's 
life-nerve,"  and  he  believed,  with  Frederick  the  Great, 
that  the  sky  did  not  repose  more  firmly  on  the  shoulders 
of  Atlas  than  the  Prussian  State  on  its  Grenerals.  He 
was  Prussian  to  the  backbone.  "  I  never  pmssiantothe 
was  ashamed,"  he  once  said,  during  the 
debates  on  the  revision  of  the  Constitution,  "  of  being  a 
Prussian ;  and  in  particular,  on  returning  home  from 
foreign  countries  I  have  always  felt  right  proud  of  being 
one.'1  It  was  this  intense  spirit  of  Chauvinism  which, 
during  the  debate  on  the  question,  of  civil  marriage, 
made  him  protest  against  the  attempt  to  "  experiment 
on  the  Fatherland  with  such  French  charlatanry." 

Europe,  he  said,  had  previously  held  the  Prussians  to  be  a  nation 
of  thinkers ;  but  their  "  popular  representatives  "  during  the  last  two 
years  had  deprived  them  of  this  good  name,  as  having  proved  them- 
selves to  be  mere  translators  of  French  "  wrapping-paper  theories." 
He  exhorted  them  to  cling  to  the  Christian  traditions  of  their  fore- 
fathers, and  if  they  did  so,  and  guaranteed  the  free  exercise  of  every 
"  Cultus "  to  the  extent  even  of  giving  police-protection  to  those 
democratic  visionaries  who  ha.d  lately  compared  one  of  their  martyrs 
(Robert  Blum,  shot  at  Vienna)  to  the  Saviour  of  the  world,  he  hoped 
still  to  "  see  the  '  Ship  of  Fools '  of  the  time  split  on  the  rock  of  the 
Christian  Church,  for  faith  in  the  revealed  word  of  God  was  more 
firmly  rooted  in  the  people  than  belief  in  the  beatific  power  of  any 
article  in  the  Constitution." 

The  last  words  uttered  by  Bismarck  as  a  deputy  in 
the  Prussian  Chamber  were  ominous.  A  discussion 
had  arisen  as  to  whether  one  honourable  member,  who 
had  written  a  pamphlet  with  the  alleged  object  of 

G 


82  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

seditiously  stirring  up  the  citizens  and  peasantry  (JBiirger 
und  Bauerri)  again.st  Junkerthum,  could  be  proceeded 
Proudof  being  against  during  the  session  ;  and  Dr.  Simpson, 
of  Konigsberg,  remarked  that  no  one  in 
Prussia  would  be  inclined  to  think  of  himself  as 
coming  within  the  category  of  this  obnoxious  tribe. 
But  to  this  Bismarck  emphatically  demurred.  He 
claimed  for  himself  and  his  political  friends  the  right  to 
feel  designated  by  this  expression,  in  the  same  way  as  a 
dutiful  officer  would  think  himself  honoured  on  hearing 
democrats  talk  of  mercenaries.  "  'Whigs  '  and '  Tories/  ' 
he  said,  "  were  also  epithets  which  had  originally  a 
contemptuous  meaning,  and  be  assured  that  we  too,  on 
our  side,  will  yet  bring  the  name  of  Junker  into  respect 
and  honour  .''* 

*  Here  it  may  be  as  well  to  explain  a  term  which  will  frequently 
occur  in  the  course  of  our  narrative.  A  "  Junker  (Jung  Herr),  or  younker," 
says  Herr  Bamberger,  "  is  essentially  the  scion  of  a  noble  house  which  has 
devoted  itself  to  military  service — a  mixture  of  Charles  I.  cavalier,  Prus- 
sian lieutenant,  German  feudal  lord,  and  Spanish  Don  Quixote.'*  In  Prus- 
sia the  term  was  originally  applied  to  cadets  of  the  noblesse,  and  to  young 
country  gentlemen  who  acted  as  ensigns,  and  did  other  squirely  duties ; 
while  Junkerthum,  or  Junkerism,  gradually  came  to  denote  the  social 
qualities  which  distinguished  this  class — family  pride  (probably  deepened 
by  poverty),  reactionary  Conservatism,  and  arrogant  caste  demeanour. 
In  1848  the  word  was  applied  by  the  Liberals  in  a  practical  sense  to  the 
high  Prussian  or  Conservative  party — mainly  composed  of  the  reactionary 
landed  gentry,  who  loathed  the  very  name  of  reform.  Mommsen,  in  his 
"  History  of  Rome,"  speaks  of  "  narrow-mindedness  and  short-sightedness 
as  the  real  and  inalienable  privileges  of  all  genuine  Junkerthum.''  When 
the  National  Assembly,  in  1848,  was  busy  with  its  root-and-branch 
schemes  of  reform,  a  large  number  of  titled  gentlemen  met  in  Berlin  to 
devise  means  of  guarding  their  ancient  rights,  and  their  Convention  was 
dubbed  the  "  Junker  Parliament." 


CHAPTER  III. 

PARLIAMENTARY    CAREER    (continued). 
2. — The  German  Question. 

WE  have  now  said  enough  to  characterise  Bismarck's 
attitude  to  the  various  constitutional  questions  which 
agitated  his  native  Prussia,  and  which  found  their  ulti- 
mate solution,  in  spite  of  his  determined  opposition  on 
many  points,  in  the  Charter  of  31st  January,  1850.* 
It  now  behoves  us  to  trace,  as  rapidly  as  may  be  con- 
sistent with  clearness,  the  course  of  his  thought  and 
action  during  these  same  years  with  respect  to  the  larger 
problem  of  German  Unity,  which  had  always  a  greater 
fascination  for  him,  and  must  therefore  have  a  deeper 
interest  for  us. 

It  was  on  the  3rd  of  April,  1849,  when  the  first 
Prussian  Parliament  was  deep  in  its  constitutional 
debates,  that  a  deputation  of  political 

notables    from    Frankfort    waited    on    the     from  Frank- 
fort. 

King    of   Prussia,    and    offered    him    the 
Imperial    German  Crown.      But  who   were  they   who 
thus  presumed  to    do    so   big   a   thing,    and  of   what 
movement  were  they  the  outcome  ?     To  explain  this  we 
must  beg  the  patience  of  our  readers  while  we  diverge 

*  See  Appendix 

o  2 


84  FRINGE  BISMARCK. 

once  more  from  the  biographical  to  the  historical  line  of 
our  narrative. 

Liberty  and  unity,  constitutionalism  and  federalism 
— such  were  the  blessings  longed  for  by  the  Grerman 
people  during  the  first  half  of  the  century.  In  the 
former  respect  something  was  accomplished,  especially 
in  the  South  Grerman  States,  even  in  the  first  decade 
after  the  Liberation  War;  but  it  was  not  till  1830, 
when  the  July  Ee volution  successfully  aroused  anew 
the  dormant  energies  of  the  nation,  that 

Germany's 

foru|§itioai  if  seriously  began  to  think  of  political  co- 
hesion. What  their  Princes  could  not,  or 
would  not,  do  for  them,  the  people  now  seriously  set 
about  trying  to  accomplish  themselves.  But  their 
efforts  were  at  first  small,  isolated,  and  ill-directed. 
Rash  and  ill-advised  like  youth,  the  movement  had  even 
manifested  itself  in  a  miserable  show  of  force  against 
the  Diet.  In  the  troubled  reactionary  period  which 
followed,  the  crumpled  bud  of  nationality,  so  to  speak, 
lay  prostrate  under  snow,  and  it  was  saved  from  pre- 
mature death  only  by  the  furtive  gardening  care  of 
patriotic  deputies  in  the  various  Chambers  recently 
created  throughout  Germany,  which  acted  like  so  many 
arks  of  free-speech  in  a  deluge  of  despotism. 

In  the  year  1848  the  electric  shock  of  revolution 
again  thrilled  the  nation  to  its  core,  and  the  cry  for 
a  German  Parliament  rang  through  the 
land  Qn  the  mvitation  of  the  Badeners 
a  congress  of  deputies  from  various  States  met  at 
Heidelberg  ;  another  preliminary  meeting  —  much 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  85 

more  largely  attended — was  soon  thereafter  held  at 
Frankfort,  to  concert  details ;  frightened  by  the 
Ee volution  which  was  knocking  so  londly  at ,  their 
various  palace-gates,  the  Sovereigns  affected  to  coun- 
tenance all  these  popular  endeavours  ;  the  semblance 
of  co-operation  between  the  Diet  and  the  Democracy 
was  established  ;  and  at  last,  on  the  18th  of  May,  1848, 
the  first  Grerman  Parliament,  elected  by  universal 
suffrage  in  proportion  to  the  population  of  the  various 
States,  met  in  the  Church  of  St.  Paul,  at  Frankfort-on- 
the-Main,  the  ancient  electoral  and  coronation  city  of 
the  Grerman  Emperors. 

Born  of  revolution  and  nourished  on  the  blind  rage 
for  reform,  it  shot  like  a  meteor  across  the  political  sky, 
only  to  make  the  succeeding  darkness  all  the  more  pain- 
fully felt.  Its  composition  was  peculiar.  The  elections 
to  it  had  been  held  almost  simultaneously  A  German 
with  those  for  the  Prussian  Constituent 
Assembly;  and  the  broad  consequence  was  that,  in 
Prussia  at  least,  nearly  all  the  practical  wisdom  was 
sent  to  Berlin,  and  all  the  political  folly  to  Frankfort. 
To  the  ordinary  Prussian  it  was  clear  enough  what  was 
at  stake  on  the  banks  of  the  Spree,  but  not,  on  the 
other  hand,  what  was  afoot  on  the  banks  of  the  Main  ; 
so  in  the  former  case,  as  a  rule,  he  voted  for  men  who 
could  drive  a  simple  bargain,  and  in  the  other  for  men 
who  could  write  a  difficult  book.  The  electors  in  the 
other  States  being  guided  by  pretty  much  the  same 
principle,  it  ensued  that  the  German  Parliament  mainly 
consisted  of  professional  scholars,  liberal  visionaries, 


86  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

philosophic  radicals,  and  men  who  could  see  little  differ- 
ence between  the  method  of  treating  a  political  theory 
and  a,  problem  in  mathematics.  Dahlmann,  Droysen, 
Duncker,  Von  Eaumer,  and  Gervinus,  the  historians ; 
Welcker,  the  publicist ;  Arndt  and  Uhland,  the  poets  ; 
Jacob  Grimm,  the  philologist;  and  Simson, the  jurist — 
are  but  a  few  specimens  of  the  men  who  took  the  lead 
in  the  Frankfort  Assembly.  Had  the  practical  sense  of 
these  politicians  been  equal  to  their  patriotism,  their 
deliberations  might  have  borne  very  different  fruit. 

The  first  important  act  of  the  Frankfort  Parliament 
was  to  appoint  a  provisional  Reichsverweser,  or  Deputy 
Euler  of  the  Empire,  in  the  person  of  John  of  Austria, 
into  whose  executive  hands  the  Diet  then  committed  its 
trust ;  and  thus  a  corpse  was  supplanted  by  a  ghost, 
which  not  even  an  Imperial  ministry  could  endow  with 
the  show  of  substance.  Then  followed  weary  months 
of  wrangling  and  bargaining,  of  arid  debates  on  the 
fundamental  rights  of  the  people,  and  bitter  con- 
troversies between  the  "Grand  Germans," 

"Grand 

^Pe1gyis''and  or  those  who  were  for  including  Austria  in 
the  glorious  new  Confederation,  and  the 
"  Petty  Germans  "  who  urged  that  she  should  be  kept 
out  of  it.  Forgetful,  too,  of  the  King  of  Prussia's 
reminder  that  "there  were  still  Princes  in  Germany, 
and  he  was  one  of  them/'  the  Assembly  began  to  act  as 
if  the  popular  sovereignty  it  asserted  was  already  a 
grave  reality  and  not  a  mere  theory.  It  meddled  with 
things  with  which  i*  had  not  the  remotest  business,  and 
drew  upon  itself  the  fury  of  an  anarchic  populace. 


PARLIAMENTARY  CAREER.  87 

Barricades  were  thrown  up ;  artillery  played  upon  the 
mob;  and  two  members  of  the  Assembly —Prince 
Lichnovsky  and  General  Auerswald— were  brutally 
massacred. 

But  the  inevitable  reaction  was  not  long  in  setting 
in,  and  the  re-establishment  of  authority  at  Vienna  and 
Berlin  relieved  the  hearts  of  all  German  Sovereigns 
from  the  revolutionary  pressure  under  which  they  had 
at  first  frankly  recognised  the  Constituent  Assembly, 
and  transferred  to  it  the  powers  of  the  Diet.  Concession 
based  on  fear  soon  gave  way  to  refusal  arising  from 
contempt.  The  Prince  Consort  of  England  wrote  to 
the  Kings  of  Prussia,  Bavaria,  Saxony,  and  Wurtem- 
berg,  urging  them  and  their  fellow- Sovereigns  to  meet 
at  Frankfort  and  settle  all  constitutional  questions  in 
concert  with  the  Assembly,  but  his  advice  was  discarded. 
They  scornfully  held  aloof.  Nevertheless 
the  Assembly  went  on  debating  all  the  chartfon biot- 

*  ting  paper. 

same,  and  by  the  end  of  the  year  it  had 
elaborated  a  document  that  was  less  a  Constitution 
than  an  illuminated  manuscript,  which  each  party 
had  adroitly  contrived  to,  adorn  with  its  own 
political  whims — a  "transcript  of  the  parchment  of 
MagnaCharta  on  continental  blotting-paper."  But  the 
Constitution  was,  after  all,  not  so  much  the  apple  of 
discord  as  the  question  of  its  executive  chief;  and  on 
this  head  the  conflict  of  opinion  was  dreadful.  The 
people,  in  this  respect,  were  slightly  more  patriotic  than 
the  Princes,  but  neither  was  sufficiently  unselfish  to 
subordinate  its  own  particular  interests  to  the  general 


88  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

weal.  The  Hapsburgers  thought  it  beneath  their 
dignity  to  submit  themselves  to  the  Hohenzollerns ; 
while,  in  the  supremacy  of  a  Protestant  State  like 
Prussia,  the  Ultramontanes  beheld  the  reign  of  Anti- 
Christ.  To  the  Gruelphs  and  the  Wittelsbachs  it  was 
equally  intolerable  to  be  overshadowed  by  a  dynasty 
which  was  only  in  its  cradle  when  they  were  bearded 
men. 

The  problem  was  greatly  simplified  by  the  news  of  the 
Constitution  granted  by  the  Vienna  Cabinet  (4th  March, 
1849),  which  declared  all  the  polyethnic  territories  of 
Austria  to  be  one  and  indivisible  without  saying  a  word 
about  the  position  she  had  hitherto  held  in  the  German 
family  of  States.  Now  there  were  few  men,  however 
ardent  their  desire  for  unity,  who  relished  the  prospect 
of  the  national  mantle  being  rounded  off  by  a  motley 
patch  of  Hungarian,  Czech,  and  Croatian  work,  and  the 
devotion  of  the  "  Grand  Germans  "  was  further  shaken  by 
the  conviction  that  Austria  clearly  wished  to  resuscitate 
the  Diet,  with  all  its  vile  abuses.  A  reorganisation  of 
parties  was  the  immediate  result ;  and  after  about  three 
weeks  of  dexterous  marching  and  countermarching  under 
the  leadership  of  Heinrich  von  Gagern,  the  Assembly 
elected  Frederick  William  IV.  of  Prussia  to  the  here- 

An  Emperor  of  ditaiT  dignitJ  of  Emperor  of  the  Germans. 
3Ct"  The  beUs  of  Frankfort  rang  out  the  joyful 
tidings  that  a  nation  had  at  last  been  born,  and  away  to 
Berlin  sped  a  deputation — which  included  Arndt,  Dahl- 
mann,  and  Von  Eaumer — to  deposit  the  Imperial  crown 
at  the  foot  of  the  Prussian  throne. 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  89 

But  the  hopeful  joy  with  which  they  approached  the 
presence  of  Frederick  William  was  quickly  turned  into 
despairing  sorrow.     For  thrice  they  offered     Frederick 
him  the  Kaiser's  crown,  which  he  did  thrice     refusesthe  ' 

Imperial 

refuse.  In  the  decision  of  the  National  Crown- 
Assembly  His  Majesty  recognised  the  voice  of  the  people, 
but  not  that  of  his  fellow  Princes ;  and  without  their 
concurrent  assent,  he  said,  he  could  not  take  a  step 
which  so  materially  affected  their  interests  as  well  as  his 
own.  Bitter  was  the  disappointment  caused  by  this 
reply  from  a  Sovereign  who  had  so  frequently  boasted 
his  resolve  to  place  himself  at  the  head  of  a  united 
Germany.  To  the  poet  Arndt,  who  had  conjured  the 
King  in  the  manner  of  an  ancient  prophet  to  bow  to  the 
will  of  the  people  and  save  the  nation,  His  Majesty 
described  the  proffered  crown  as  "  the  iron  fetter  by 
which  the  descendant  of  four-and-twenty  Sovereigns, 
the  ruler  of  sixteen  million  subjects,  and  the  lord  of  the 
loyalest  and  bravest  army  in  the  world,  would  be  made 
the  mere  serf  of  the  Revolution."  There  is  no  doubt 
that,  in  refusing  the  Imperial  crown,  the  King  was 
influenced  by  prudence ;  but  it  is  equally  certain  that 
he  was  also  moved  by  fear.  The  news  of  the  Frankfort 
vote  reached  him  on  the  same  day  as  brought  tidings  of 
the  battle  of  Novara ;  and  he  felt  that,  dangerous  as  it 
was  to  spite  Austria  at  any  time,  it  would  be  doubly  so 
to  brave  her  in  her  hour  of  victory — Austria,  who  could 
count  on  the  support  of  Russia,  and  who  had  withdrawn 
her  representatives  from  the  National  Assembly  on 
hearing  of  the  Kaiserwahl,  while  encouraging  the  German 


90  FRINGE  BISMARCK. 

Kings  to  do  the  same.  There  were  not  wanting  patriots 
who  exhorted  the  King  to  discard  these  considerations 
and  "  descend  into  the  lion's  den,  in  the  courageous  confi- 
dence that  God  would  help  him ;  "  but  to  these  coun- 
sellors His  Majesty's  only  replied  that  "he  was  not  the 
prophet  Daniel,  and  that  he  did  not  see  the  use  of  tempt- 
ing Providence." 

Still,  the  King's  refusal  of  the  Imperial  crown  was 
only  conditional,  and  though   resolved  not   to   accept 

••Never,  never,  ^  a^  ^ne  hands  °f  the  people  alone,  he 
at  once  set  about  seeing  whether  it  were 
not  possible  to  achieve  the  assent  of  the  crowned 
heads  and  free  cities  of  Germany.  On  the  same  day, 
therefore,  on  which  he  sent  the  Frankfort  deputa- 
tion empty  and  dispirited  away,  Prussia  invited  the 
German  Governments  to  send  plenipotentiaries  with  all 
haste  to  Frankfort  for  the  purpose  of  discussing  the 
formation  of  a  Federal  State,  and  of  shaping  their  atti- 
tude to  the  National  Assembly.  A  favourable  reply 
was  received  from  eight-and-twenty  of  the  minor  States, 
but  the  others  were  silent.  Meanwhile,  the  Liberals  in 
the  Prussian  Chamber  disapproved  the  step,  as  calculated 
to  dash  the  hopes  of  Germany,  and  demanded  recogni- 
tion of  the  Frankfort  Constitution,  on  the  strength  of 
which,  as  well  as  on  subsequent  approval  by  the  German 
Sovereigns,  they  moved  the  King  to  accept  the  proffered 
crown.  To  these  demands,  ho  we  ver,  Count  Bradenburg,  one 
of  the  ministers,  simply  answered  with  a  dramatic  "Never, 
never,  never ! " ;  while  Herr  von  Bismarck,  as  spokesman 
of  the  extreme  Eight,  rose  to  move  the  order  of  the  day. 


PARLIAMENTARY   OAREER.  91 

His  speech  was  long  and  telling,  being  characterised 
by  satirical  humour  and  pitiless  logic,  and  by  explosive 
elements  which  repeatedly  brought  into 
requisition  the  bell  of  the  President.  Com- 

Constitution. 

paring  the  Prussian  Charter  with  the 
Frankfort  Constitution,  and  dwelling  on  the  impossi- 
bility of  their  co-existence,  he  described  the  latter  as 
having  been  drawn  from  "  the  profounder  depths  of  the 
wisdom- well  of  those  doctrinaires  who,  since  the  Contrat- 
social,  had  learned  nothing  and  forgotten  much ;  of  those 
theorists  whose  fancies  had  cost  the  nation  more  blood, 
money,  and  tears,  in  six  months,  than  the  absolutism  of 
three-and-thirty  years." 

The  Frankfort  Constitution,  he  said,  bore  upon  its  brow  the 
broad  impress  of  popular  sovereignty,  and  invited  the  King  to  hold 
his  free  Crown  as  a  mere  fief  from  the  people,  which  simply  meant 
the  extinction  of  his  power.  Again,  it  proposed  universal  suffrage  of 
the  direct  kind,  which  would  utterly  destroy  fairness  of  representation, 
and  bring  the  Left  unduly  to  the  front  from  the  petty  republicanised 
States.  A  third  blemish  was  the  annual  budget  clause,  which  would 
enable  intriguing  majorities  to  neutralise  the  royal  power,  and  stop 
the  machinery  of  State  at  will ;  while  a  further  and  more  serious  flaw 
was  its  demand  that  the  future  Emperor  should  recreate  and  unify 
all  Germany — a  condition  which  might  impose  upon  the  Kaiser  the 
necessity  of  treating  some  of  his  fellow-princes  as  rebels,  and  of  ap- 
pealing, for  example,  for  the  action  of  the  Bavarians  against  the 
house  of  Wittelsbach,  or  for  that  of  the  Hanoverians  against  the 
Guelphs.  That,  at  least,  was  demanded  by  the  revolutionary  party, 
who  would  ere  long  approach  the  Kaiser  with  the  imperial  arms  and 
say :  "  And  think  you,  then,  that  this  eagle  was  given  you  all  for 
nothing  1 "  Every  means  was  clearly  being  employed  to  impose  on 
Prussia  the  rdle  in  Germany  which  Sardinia  had  played  in  Italy,  and 
to  place  her  in  the  predicament  of  Charles  Albert  before  the  battle 
of  Novara,  where  victory  meant  the  destruction  of  the  monarchy, 


92  FRINGE  BISMARCK. 

and  his  defeat  a  shameful  peace.  Had  not  their  subserviency  to 
Frankfort  already  shown  them  the  astounding  phenomenon  of 
Prussian  troops  defending  the  Revolution  in  Schleswig  against  its 
lawful  lord,  and  of  some  of  their  provinces  being  ruined  for  the 
second  time  by  a  struggle  for  the  Emperor's  beard,  a  true  querelle 
d'Allemand?  German  unity  was  desired  by  every  one  who  spoke 
German,  but  with  such  a  Constitution  he,  for  his  part,  would  have 
none  of  it.  Who,  then,  had  declared  in  its  favour  ?  Only  eight- 
and-twenty  terrorised  Governments  still  suffering  from  the  March 
fever  of  the  previous  year,  and  ruling  over  about  six  and  a  half 
million  subjects  ;  against  which  were  to  be  pitted  Austria,  Prussia, 
and  four  other  German  kingdoms  with  thirty-eight  millions,  not 
to  speak  of  Baden,  Holstein,  Luxemburg,  Limberg,  and  others 
whose  consent  was  conditional  or  still  in  suspense.  It  was 
chiefly  the  rash  resolution  of  the  National  Assembly,  to  which  it 
stubbornly  clung,  that  stood  in  the  way  of  German  unity  ;  and  it 
was  the  duty  therefore  of  Prussia,  at  the  moment  when  Europe  was 
just  beginning  to  recover  from  the  welter  of  revolution,  to  oppose  the 
sovereign  desires  of  Frankfort,  which  had  come  exactly  a  year  too 
late.  Prussia,  too,  would  thus  be  able  all  the  sooner  to  promote 
German  unity  in  the  way  adopted  by  the  Government.  Rather, 
however,  than  see  his  King  become  the  vassal  of  political  nobodies, 
he  would  prefer  to  see  Prussia  remain  as  she  was.  As  such  she 
would  always  be  in  a  position  to  give  Germany  laws,  not  receive 
them  from  others.  As  representing  the  electoral  capital  of  Bran- 
denburg, the  cradle  of  the  Prussian  monarchy,  he  felt  all  the  more 
bound  to  prevent  the  destruction  of  that  State  edifice  erected  by 
centuries  of  patriotism  and  glory.  The  Frankfort  crown  might  be 
very  brilliant,  but  the  gold  which  gave  it  genuineness  must  first  be 
got  by  melting  down  the  Prussian  crown  ;  and  he  had  little  hope  that 
the  whole  could  be  successfully  re-cast  in  the  mould  of  the  National 
Constitution. 

We  have  thought  it  worth  while  to  give  this  some- 
what lengthy  summary  of  Bismarck's  first 

The  Revolu-  J 


speech  on  the  Unity   Question   because  it 
is  the  best  explanation  which   could   pos- 
sibly be  offered  of  the  policy  then  pursued  by  Prussia, 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  93 

as  it  likewise  foreshadowed  the  path  of  national 
reform  on  which  he  himself  was  destined  to  lead 
her.  That,  if  Frederick  William  had  accepted  the 
Frankfort  crown,  he  would  certainly  have  plunged 
Germany  into  the  horrors  of  a  civil  war ;  and  that,  in 
standing  forth  as  the  apologist  of  the  course  he  took, 
Bismarck  proved  himself  to  be  a  wiser  man  than  most 
of  his  countrymen,  cannot  now  surely  he  doubted. 
Nevertheless,  his  words  of  wisdom  availed  not  with  the 
Prussian  Chamber,  of  which  a  majority  declared  itself  in 
favour  of  the  Frankfort  Constitution;  but  the  veto 
might  of  the  Crown  was  stronger  than  the  voting  power 
of  the  Chamber,  and  the  latter  was  dissolved.  At  the 
same  time,  the  Frankfort  Parliament  melted  away  into 
insignificance,  anarchy,  and  air;  and  the  Ee volution, 
which  had  still  life  enough  left  to  show  its  furious  teeth 
in  Saxony  and  Baden,  received  the  final  coup  de 
grace  from  Prussian  bayonets.  The  Revolution  had 
brought  constitutionalism  to  Prussia  and  most  of  the 
other  States,  but  it  had  signally  failed  to  combine 
them.  It  had  destroyed  absolutism,  but  it  had  not 
succeeded  in  constructing  a  federative  and  free  imperial- 
ism. That  was  beyond  its  strength,  because  beyond  its 
sphere ;  yet  it  gave  fresh  impulse  to  the  unity  move- 
ment, as  well  as  to  the  King  of  Prussia's  ambition — to 
guide  that  movement  to  the  goal  of  the  nation's  hopes. 

In  the  six  months  between  the  dissolution  of  the 
Chamber — which  was  followed  by  Frederick  William's 
formal  rejection  of  the  Imperial  crown — and  the  meeting 
of  its  successor,  Prussia  had  not  been  idle  in  the  matter 


94  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

of  the  German  question,  as  was  proved  by  the  papers 
presented  to  Parliament  soon  after  it  met.  Chief  among 
these  was  a  treaty  between  Prussia,  Saxony,  and  Han- 
over, who  formed  the  so-called  "  Tri-Eegal  Alliance  " 
The  Tri-Regai  ^or  ^e  PurPose  °^  creating  a  "  restricted 
union  "  of  all  the  German  States  save 
Austria — who  would,  however,  be  invited  to  conclude 
perpetual  amity  with  them — while  another  National 
Assembly  would  be  convoked  to  settle  the  Constitution. 
The.  basis  of  this  new  Charter,  as  agreed  upon  by  the 
three  Kings  themselves,  differed  from  the  Frankfort 
patchwork  of  the  same  kind  in  that  it  conferred  ampler 
separate  rights  on  the  various  States,  and  invested  the 
central  power,  not  in  an  Emperor  of  the  Germans,  but  in 
a  Prussian  President  of  a  Princely  College  possessing  an 
absolute  veto  on  the  decisions  of  the  People's  House. 
This  scheme  received  the  assent  of  most  of  the  minor 
States,  and  it  was  likewise  declared  to  be  acceptable  by 
the  Liberal  Bump  of  the  Frankfort  Parliament. 

In  the  Prussian  Chamber,  Bismarck  acted  as  the 
spokesman  of  about  fifty  members  of  the  Eight  who 
moved  approval  of  the  Three-King  Pact  pure  and 
simple.  Not  that  he  was  in  complete  accord  with  the 
draft  Imperial  Constitution  serving  as  the  basis  of  the 
Alliance,  but  he  saw  no  reason  why  that  should  prevent 
him  from  supporting  a  ministry  which  he  honoured  as 
representing  social  and  political  order  as  against 
democracy.  JSTor  could  he  repress  the  wish  that  this  was 

the   last  time  the  achievements  of  the  Prussian  sword  would  be 
given  away  with  generous  hand  (he  was  referring  to  the  concession.* 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  95 

wrung  from  the  Crown  by  the  Revolution)  in  order  to  appease  the 
insatiable  demands  of  a  phantom  which,  under  the  name  of  the  spirit 
of  the  time  or  public  opinion,  stupefied  with  its  deafening  clamour  the 
reason  of  princes  and  people  till  each  grew  afraid  of  the  other's 
shadow,  and  forgot  that  beneath  the  lion's  skin  of  the  spectre  there 
was  only  a  very  noisy  but  very  innocuous  animal. 

He  pointed  out  that  the  attempt  to  engraft 
the  proposed  new  Federal  State  on  the  Grerman  Con- 
federation represented  by  the  Bund  would 

"Beware  of  a 

in    all   probability .  end  in   a    "  quarrel   for     {ffe  Kaiser's 
the    Kaiser's   beard,"    and    he    scoffed    at 
the   notion  of  Prussia's  finding  compensation   enough 
for    all    the     sacrifices     demanded     of     her    in     the 
consciousness  of  having  pursued  a    magnanimous  and 
unselfish   policy.      The   policy  of  Frederick  the  Great 
had  often  been  referred  to  in  connection  with  the  union 
motion,  but  Bismarck  scouted  the  comparison. 

"  I  am  more  inclined  to  believe,"  he  said,  "  that  Frederick  IL 
would  have  turned  "  (for  a  solution  of  the  question)  "  to  the  most 
prominent  characteristic  of  the  Prussian  nation — its  warlike  element 
— and  not  without  success.  For  he  would  have  known  that  now, 
too,  as  in  the  days  of  our  fathers,  the  sound  of  the  trumpet  summoning 
all  to  the  standard  of  their  sovereign-lord  has  not  yet  lost  its  charm 
for  the  Prussian  ear,  be  it  for  the  defence  of  our  own  frontiers  or  for 
the  glory  and  greatness  of  Prussia.  After  the  rupture  with  Frank- 
fort he  would  have  had  the  choice  of  allying  himself  with  Austria, 
his  old  comrade-in-arms,  and  of  assuming  the  brilliant  rdle  played  by 
the  Emperor  of  Russia  in  assisting  Austria  to  annihilate  the  common 
foe,  revolution ;  or  it  would  have  been  open  to  him,  after  rejection 
of  the  Imperial  Frankfort  crown,  by  the  same  right  as  that  by  which 
he  had  conquered  Silesia,  to  decide  for  the  Germans  in  the  matter  of 
their  Constitution  at  the  risk  "  (on  their  refusing)  "  of  his  casting  the 
sword  into  the  scale.  That  would  have  been  a  national  Prussian 
policy.  In  the  former  case  community  with  Austria,  in  the  latter 
her  own  exertions  would  have  given  Prussia  the  proper  position  for 


96  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

helping  Germany  to  be  the  Power  in  Europe  which  it  ought  to  be. 
But  the  draft  Constitution  annihilates  specific  Prussianism,  .  which 
has  saved  the  country  from  the  Revolution  and  almost  alone  survived 
it  .  .  .  It  was  a  Prussian  regiment  which  on  18th  September, 
1848,  saved  us  from  what  the  Frankfort  Parliament  conjured  up 
against  us.  .  .  .  It  was  the  attachment  of  the  Prussian  people  to 
their  ruling  house  ;  it  was  the  old  Prussian  virtues  of  honour,  loyalty, 
obedience,  and  bravery,  which  permeate  the  army  from  its  frame- 
work, the  corps  of  officers,  to  the  youngest  recruit.  This  army 
cherishes  no  tricolour  enthusiasm.  In  it,  as  among  the  rest  of  the 
people,  you  will  not  find  any  longing  for  national  regeneration.  It 
is  content  with  the  name  of  Prussian,  and  proud  of  it  too.  These 
hosts  will  follow  the  black-and-white  banner,  but  not  the  tricolour ; 
and  under  the  former  gladly  die  for  their  country.  Nay,  since  the 
18th  March,  they  have  come  to  regard  the  tricolour  as  the  badge  of 
their  opponents.  Familiar  to  and  beloved  by  them  are  the  strains 
Prussian, not  of  the  'Prussian  Air,'  the  'Old  Dessauer '  and  the 
*  Hohenfriedberg '  marches,  but  I  have  never  yet 
heard  a  Prussian  soldier  sing,  'What  is  the  German's  Father- 
land?' The  people  from  whom  this  army  is  drawn,  and 
who  are  most  truly  represented  by  it,  have  no  desire  to  see 
their  Prussian  kingdom  melt  away  in  the  putrifying  ferment  of 
South-German  anarchy.  Their  loyalty  does  not  cleave  to  an  imperial 
paper  presidency,  nor  to  a  princely  board  of  six,  but  rather  to  a  free 
and  living  King  of  Prussia,  the  heir  of  his  forefathers ;  and  what 
this  people  wills  we  also  wish  with  it.  We  all  desire  to  behold  the 
Prussian  eagle  spread  its  protecting  and  controlling  pinions  from  the 
Memel  to  the  Donnersberg ;  but  free  we  wish  to  see  it,  not  fettered 
by  a  new  Diet  of  Ratisbon,  and  not  clipped  in  the  wings  by  that 
equalising  hedgehook  whereof  we  well  remember  that  it  was  first  at 
Gotha  converted  into  an  instrument  of  peace,  while  but  a  few  weeks 
previously  in  Frankfort  it  was  brandished  as  a  threatening  weapon 
against  Prussianism  and  the  ordinances  of  our  King.  Prussians  we 
are,  and  Prussians  we  will  remain.  I  know  that  in  these  words  I 
but  express  the  creed  of  the  Prussian  army  and  of  the  majority  of 
my  countrymen;  and  I  hope  to  God  that  we  shall  also  remain 
Prussians  long  after  this  bit  of  paper  "  (the  German  Constitution) 
"  has  mouldered  away  like  a  withered  autumn  leal" 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  97 

"  Where  there  is  much  light,"  said  a  Liberal  deputy 
(Beckerath)  in  replying  to  the  above  speech,  "  there  will 
also  be  much  shadow ;  the  great  Grerman  Fatherland 
must  also  have  a  lost  son."  To  which  Bismarck  replied 
that  "  his  father's  house  was  Prussia,  and  that  if  anyone 
were  a  homeless  wanderer  it  was  the  honourable  mem- 
ber, whose  paternal  mansion  was  only  being  founded, 
if,  indeed,  they  had  yet  got  beyond  blasting  the  rock 
for  it." 

Bat  Bismarck  consoled  himself  with  the  reflection 
that  the  omens  were  all  against  the  occurrence  of  the 
evils  which  he  dreaded.  For  Austria  had  declined  to 
countenance  the  idea  of  the  "  restricted  union,"  while 
Bavaria  and  Wiirtemberg  refused  to  enter  it.  Other 
minor  States,  too,  had  their  scruples  ;  and  thus  Hanover 
and  Saxony,  who  had  reserved  to  themselves  the  right 
of  retiring  from  the  triple -partnership  should  all  the 
other  States,  save  Austria,  not  be  brought  to  promise 
their  adhesion  to  the  contemplated  Union,  now  began 
to  claim  release  from  the  Three -King  Pact.  What  was 
poor  Frederick  William  to  do  ?  What  he  did  was  to 
conciliate  Austria  by  concluding  the  so-called  An  „ Interim 
"Interim  Arrangement,"  which  provisionally 
invested  the  central  power  of  the  Bund  in  an  Austro- 
Prussian  Executive  Committee,  into  whose  hands  the 
Reichsverweser  of  the  Frankfort  Parliament  now  re- 
committed his  trust.  Austria  wa,s  just  as  anxious  for  the 
resuscitation  of  the  old  Diet,  as  Prussia  was  eager  for  the 
creation  of  a  new  Empire ;  and  each,  looking  at  the 
future  of  Germany  from  different  points  of  view, 
H 


98  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

welcomed  this  arrangement  as  a  sure  transition  step 
to  the  attainment  of  its  ideal.  It  was  only  when  the 
two  noble  hounds  were  bound  together  in  the  same 
leash,  that  their  straining  in  opposite  directions  revealed 
the  existence  of  a  double  scent. 

Both  Saxony  and  Hanover  had  been  gradually  fall- 
ing away  from  the  Tri-  Regal  Alliance,  which  was  based 
on  a  mutual  agreement  to  summon  another  German 
Assembly ;  but  the  defection  of  his  allies,  thought 
Frederick  William,  was  no  reason  why  he,  too,  should 
break  his  solemn  promise  to  the  nation.  So  the  final 
outcome  of  his  doubts  and  difficulties  was  the  issue  of 
an  electoral  law  in  the  name  of  the  three  Kings  for 
the  return  of  another  German  Parliament  at  Erfurt. 
But  this  step  was  immediately  protested  against,  no 
less  by  his  co-executor  Austria  than  by  his  confederate 
Saxony  who  deemed  the  act  at  least  premature,  and  by 
Hanover,  who  ignored  it  altogether ;  while  another  com- 
petitor now  appeared  in  the  field  in  the  shape  of  a  Quad- 
ruple Alliance  between  the  Kings  of  Han- 


A  Quadruple 

&e1t2iorsaofd  over,  Saxony,  Wiirtemberg  and  Bavaria,  who 
had  concocted  a  rival  Constitution  more 
likely  to  prove  acceptable  to  Austria.  The  Prussian 
envoys  were  withdrawn  from  Stuttgart  and  Hanover, 
and  in  a  speech  from  the  throne  the  King  of  Wiirtem- 
berg vehemently  assailed  the  union  policy  of  Prussia. 
Yet  in  spite  of  all  this  discouragement,  and  even  down- 
right opposition,  the  elections  were  held ;  and  the  second 
German  Parliament,  summoned  by  Frederick  William, 
met  at  Erfurt  on  the  20th  of  March,t850.  But  was 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  99 

it  a  German  Parliament,  men  asked,  which  only  con- 
tained delegates  from  Prussia  and  some  of  the  other 
minor  States  ?  The  Grerman  tailors  of  Tooley  Street,  so 
to  speak,  had  again  assembled. 

Of  this  second  Constituent  Reichstag*  Herr  von  Bis- 
marck was  not  only  a  member  but  also  an  office-bearer, 
for,  as  being  the  youngest  of  his  colleagues — 
he  was  only  thirty-five — he  had  to  act  as  sec-  feran|e;coinci- 
retary,  or  Speaker's  clerk.  By  the  posterity 
of  a  hundred  years  hence  Martin  Luther  and  Prince  Bis- 
marck will  undoubtedly  be  regarded  as  the  Castor  and 
Pollux  of  Grerman  history ;  and  it  is  a  remarkable 
coincidence  that  each  of  these  greatest  heroes  of  the 
German  nation  made  his  debut,  so  to  speak,  as  European 
actor  on  the  very  same  obscure  provincial  stage.  It 
was  in  the  University  library  of  Erfurt  that  Luther 
first  discovered  the  Bible,  while  it  was  in  the  church 
of  the  Augustines  that  he  was  consecrated  and  read  his 
first  mass ;  and  it  was  in  this  identical  church  of  the 
Augustines  that  Herr  von  Bismarck,  as  a  member  of 
the  futile  Union  Parliament  of  1850,  first  gave  indica- 

*  The  Erfurt  Parliament  sat  from  20th  of  March  to  29th  of  April, 
1850.  It  consisted  of  a  Staatenhaus  and  a  VolJcshaus.  Half  the  members 
in  the  former  were  returned  by  the  Governments  and  the  other  half  by 
their  representative  Diets ;  while  the  latter  was  wholly  elected  by  the 
people  on  the  Prussian  (double  or  indirect)  principle  of  voting,  which  had 
somehow  or  other  fanned  the  radical  chaff  from  the  political  wheat,  and 
sent  up  a  majority  of  moderate  Liberals.  To  these  were  opposed  a  minority 
of  Ultra- Conservative  or  Kreuz-Zeitung  men,  and  with  the  latter,  on  the 
extreme  Hight,  Bismarck  took  his  seat.  It  was  opened  with  an  enthusi- 
astic speech  from  the  Prussian  Commissioner,  Herr  von  Radowitz,  who 
presided  over  the  provisional  Verwaltungsraih,  or  Administrative  Council 
of  the  Union,  composed  of  representatives  of  Prussia,  Saxony,  Hesse, 
Nassau,  and  Brunswick. 

H    2 


100  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

lion  to  his  countrymen  of  how  national  unity  could,  or 
rather  could  not,  be  attained.*  For  his  attitude  was 
si'  11  sceptical  and  negative. 

"  I  am  quite  ready  to  go  to  Erfurt,"  he  said  to  his  constituents, 
"  aw  it  seems  to  me  highly  necessary  for  Prussia,  who  can  form  the 
only  sound  and  strong  basis  of  a  restricted  German  union,  to  be  de- 
fended against  the  weakening  and  disintegrating  attacks  of  the  so- 
calied  German  and  Frankfort  men.  We  shall  be  in  danger  there  of 
making  very  considerable  sacrifices  of  our  power,  especially  our  finan- 
ciai  power,  without  achieving  anything  but  a  diminution  of  our 
independence  in  favour  of  the  minor  States." 

His  programme  was  further  illustrated  by  what  he 

\\  rote  in  a  presentation-album  to  Professor  Stahl,  of  Ber- 

lin :  "  Our  watchword  is  not  Federal  State  at 

Neither  fede-  ,      .  .     .         .  .         «  .  ,      —.          .        ~ 

raaon  nor  any  price,  but  integrity  of  the  .Prussian  Crown 
at  any  price."  Herr  von  Manteuffel  had  been 
ovdered  by  the  King  to  try,  if  possible,  and  arrange  an 
understanding  between  the  moderate  Liberals  and  the 
P  russian  party  ;  and  for  this  purpose  he  brought  Herr 
von  Gragern  and  Herr  von  Bismarck  together.  But  the 
result  was  barren. 

"  I  tackled  Gagern,"   said  Bismarck  once,  "  and  explained  my 
whole  position  in  a  very  sober  and  business-like  way.     And  then  you 
have  heard  him  —  how  he  put  on  his  Jupiter  face,  lifted  his 


*  Said  a  Correspondent  of  The  Times,  when  describing  the  Luther 
commemoration-festival  at  Erfurt,  August  8,  1883  :  —  "  Anticipating  the 
veneration  of  posterity,  the  town  authorities  have  already  put  up  an 
inscription  on  the  very  modest  little  house  where  the  political  Unifier  of  the 
Fatherland  lodged  when  attending  the  Erfurt  Parliament  ;  and  as  that 
little  house  was  to-day  passed  by  the  multitudes  of  students  who  had 
assembled  to  do  honour  to  the  religious  Liberator  of  Germany,  they  raised 
such  a  clamour  of  enthusiasm  as  left  no  doubt  about  the  heartiness  of  their 
hero-worship." 


PARLIAMENTARY  CAREER.  101 

eyebrows,  bristled  up  his  hair,  rolled  his  eyes  about,  fixed  them  on 
the  ceiling  till  they  all  but  cracked,  and  talked  at  me  with  his  big 
phrases  as  if  I  had  been  a  public  meeting.  But  that,  of  course,  got 
nothing  out  of  me.  I  answered  him  quite  coolly,  and  we  remained 
as  far  apart  as  ever.  He  is  frightfully  stupid  —  a  mere  phrase  water- 
ing-pot of  a  fellow  —  nothing  to  be  done  with  him."  * 

The  task  of  the  Erfurt  Eeichstag  was  analogous  to 
that  of  the  Frankfort  Parliament.  But  whereas  the 
latter,  with  that  hair-splitting  painstakingness  so  dear 
to  the  professorial  mind,  had  dawdled  over  its  work 
more  than  a  year,  its  Erfurt  successor  went 

*  .  The  Erfurt 

to  the  other  absurd  extreme  and  rushed  it 


through  in  less  than  a  month.  The  former 
had  allowed  its  constitutional  cakes  to  burn  till  they  were 
unfit  for  eating  ;  the  latter  had  gulped  them  greedily 
down  before  they  had  seen  the  fire.  Bismarck  himself 
compared  its  conduct  to  that  of  a  "  fiery  fox-hunter  who 
leaps  a  wall  into  a  bog,  without  knowing  how  he  and 
his  horse  are  to  get  out  again."  There  had  been  pro- 
posed two  distinct  methods  of  treating  the  Constitution 
as  presented  by  the  allied  States.  The  Left,  on  the  prin- 
ciple of  hanging  a  man  first  and  trying  him  afterwards, 
were  for  at  once  and  unreservedly  voting  it  in  a  lump, 
"  in  order,  before  all  things,  to  bind  together  the 
Governments/'  and  then  revising  it  ;  while  the  Right,  and 
with  more  reason  one  would  think,  urged  that  it  should 
first  be  revised  and  then  voted.  Nevertheless,  the  Left 
prevailed.  Nor  was  it  to  any  purpose  that  Bismarck 
subsequently  rose  and  protested  against  "  a  non-Prussian 

*  "  Bismarck  in  the  Franco-German  War," 


102  PRINCE   BISMAROK. 

majority  "  having  thus  violently  "  obtruded "  on  his 
native  country  a  decision  come  to  in  defiance  of  business 
form. 

He  looked  upon  the  whole  proceedings  as  a  farce ; 
and  he  urged  the  substitution  of  the  phrase  "  Deutsche 
Union  '  for  "  Deutsches  Reich'9  in  order  to  make  its 
collapse  look  less  ridiculous  should  several  of  the  allied 
Governments  tear  the  "  net  of  fraternal  German  love 
The  ravens  of  thus  suddenly  flung  over  them."  President 
3er*  Simson,  on  assuming  office,  had  reminded 
the  Assembly  that  exactly  one  thousand  years  ago  a 
Reichstag  had  met  in  Erfurt ;  and  Bismarck  (who  was 
no  less  deeply  versed  in  ancient  German  history  than 
this  famous  jurist)  profited  by  the  allusion  to  show  from 
old  Spangenberg,  the  chronicler,  that  "  King  Louis  had 
held  it  in  order  to  put  an  end  to  the  flaying  practices  of 
attorneys  and  pettifoggers  who  at  that  time  were  an 
intolerable  nuisance  in  Germany."  And  should  its 
successor  (added  Bismarck,  with  bitter  mockery) 
achieve  a  similar  result,  then  "he  would  believe  that 
the  ravens  of  the  Kyff  hauser  had  vanished,  and  that  the 
day  of  German  unity  was  near."* 

His  soul  was  sickened  by  the  complicated  system  of 
governing  machinery,  with  its  princely  colleges,  councils, 

*  A  reference  to  the  legend  which  represents  Barbarossa  as  sitting 
asleep  before  a  stone  table  in  a  cave  of  the  Kyff  hauser  Mountain  (in  the 
Harz),  and  dreaming  of  the  way  in  which  he  shall  reconquer  and  reconsti- 
tute Germany.  A  shepherd  having  once  been  introduced  by  a  dwarf  into 
the  cave,  Barbarossa  rose  and  asked  his  visitor  "  whether  the  ravens  were 
still  flying  round  the  mountain  ? "  and,  on  receiving  an  affirmative 
answer,  sank  down  again  with  a  sigh  and  a  cry  that  he  would  still  have  to 
sleep  another  hundred  years. 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  103 

and  all    the    rest  of  it,    under  which  it  was  proposed 
to   "  draw   the   thread-bare    coat    of   French   constitu- 
tionalism over  the  unwieldy  hody   of  Grer-     Aprussian 
man   unity;"  and   he   made   an    elaborate     *°**^ 
estimate    of   relative  forces   to    show    that   under    the 
contemplated   Constitution,  a   million    Badeners  would 
have    as    much    political    power    as    sixteen    million 
Prussians,     a     result    which    would     be    tantamount 
to  the  "  mediatisation  "  of  the  King  of  Prussia  in  his 
own  country. 

"  Gentlemen,"  he  said,  for  his  words  on  this  occasion  deserve  to 
be  fully  quoted,  "  it  has  pained  me  to  see  Prussians  here,  and  not 
only  nominal  Prussians,  who  adhere  to  this  Constitution  and  warmly 
defend  it  j  it  has  been  humiliating  to  me,  as  it  would  have  been  to 
thousands  and  thousands  of  my  countrymen,  to  see  the  representa- 
tives of  Princes,  whom  I  honour  in  their  lawful  sphere,  but  who  are 
not  my  sovereign  lords — to  see  them  invested  with  supreme  power ; 
and  the  bitterness  of  this  feeling  was  not  softened  at  the  opening  of 
this  Assembly  by  my  seeing  the  seats  on  which  we  sit  adorned  with 
colours  which  were  never  the  colours  of  the  German  Empire,  but  for 
the  last  two  years  rather  the  badge  of  rebellion  and  barricades — 
colours  which,  in  my  native  country,  apart  from  the  democrats,  are 
only  worn  in  sorrowful  obedience  by  the  soldier.  Gentlemen,  if  you 
do  not  make  more  concessions  to  the  Prussian,  to  the  old  Prussian 
spirit,  call  it  what  you  will,  than  you  have  hitherto  done  in  this 
Constitution,  then  I  do  not  believe  in  its  realisation ;  and  if  you 
attempt  to  impose  this  Constitution  on  this  Prussian  spirit,  you  will 
find  in  it  a  Bucephalus  *  who  carries  his  accustomed  lord  and  rider 
with  daring  joy,  but  will  fling  to  the  earth  the  presuming  Cockney 
horseman,  with  all  his  trappings  of  sable,  red  and  gold.  But  I  am 
comforted  in  my  fear  of  these  eventualities  by  the  firm  belief  that  it 
will  not  be  long  before  the  parties  come  to  regard  this  Constitution 
as  the  two  doctors  in  Lafontaine's  fable  did  the  patient  whose  corpse 

*  The  favourite  charger  of  Alexander  the  Great,  which  none  but  him- 
self could  break  and  mount 


104  PRINCE   BISMAROK. 

they  had  just  left.  '  He  is  dead,'  said  one,  *  I  said  he  would  die  all 
along.'  '  Had  he  taken  my  advice,'  quoth  the  other,  { he  would  be 
still  alive.'" 

Powerless  to  withstand  the  headlong  charge  of  the 
levelling  Unionists,  Bismarck  aimed  a  singing  Parthian 
shot  at  their  odious  parent,  the  Eevolution.  In  the 
Prussian  Chamber  he  had  advocated  a  repressive  remedy 
against  what  he  called  "  moral  blood-poisoning  "  by  the 
Press  ;  *  and  now,  when  the  "  fundamental  rights  "  of 
the  German  people  came  on  for  discussion,  he  urged 
that  the  utmost  restrictions  should  be  imposed  on  the 
right  of  public  meeting,  "  wherein  lay  the  edge  of  those 
The  constitu-  shears  with  which  the  constitutional  De- 
andthemon-  lilah  clipped  the  locks  of  the  monarchical 

archical  Sam- 
Sam  SOU,  in  order  to  give  him  over  defence- 
less into  the  hands  of  the  democratic  Philistines."  He 
essayed  to  paint  in  sombre  colours  the  evils  of  free 
assemblage,  which  was  "  the  fire-bellows  of  democracy," 
the  most  dangerous  weapon  of  negative  spirits  against 
authority,  and  calculated  to  make  the  believer  in  human 
nature  "  veil  himself  in  dull  and  hopeless  melancholy/' 
These  were  Bismarck's  last  words  in  the  Erfurt  Parlia- 
ment, not  being  minded,  as  he  said,  "  to  take  any 
further  part  in  the  debates  of  an  Assembly  which,  ever 
since  it  swallowed  the  Constitution  at  a  gulp,  was 
lapsing  more  and  more  into  the  state  of  that  doomed 

*  As  Secretary  in  the  Erfurt  Parliament  Bismarck  had  excluded  the 
representative  of  the  Allgemeine  Zeitung  (of  Augsburg)  from  the 
reporter's  gallery  for  some  offence  or  other ;  nor  could  he  he  induced  to 
withdraw  his  interdict,  even  by  a  threat  of  the  other  journalists  to  strike 
work. 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  105 

professor  of  Syracuse  (Archimedes)  who,  to  the  '  facts ' 
pressing  in  upon  him,  called  out  in  his  theoretic  abstrac- 
tion :  '  noli  turbare  circulos  meos,9  without  making  the 
least  impression  on  any  one." 

In  the  following  letter  addressed  by  Bismarck  to  his 
friend,  the  editor  of  the  Kreuz-Zeitung,  we  have  a  vivid 
reflection  of  his  habits  and  feelings  about  this  time :  * 

"  Schbnhausen,  June,  30,  1850.  ....  I  am  leading  an 
incredibly  lazy  life  here,  smoking,  reading,  strolling  about,  and  play- 
ing the  paterfamilias.  Of  politics  I  only  read  in  the  Kreuz-Zeitung, 
so  that  I  am  not  at  all  in  danger  of  heterodox  contagion,  and  this 
idyllic  solitude  suits  me  very  well.  I  loll  about  on  the  grass,  read 
poetiy,  listen  to  music,  and  wait  till  the  cherries  are  ripe.  Indeed,  I 
should  not  at  all  be  surprised  if  this  pastoral  life  gives  my  next 
political  efforts  at  Erfurt  or  Berlin  a  character 
reminding  one  of  Beckerath  "  (a  mystical  and  high-  modern  Khalif 
flown  deputy  from  Khineland),  "and  of  gentle 
summer  airs  laden  with  the  fragrance  of  blossom.  I  have  not 
read  the  Press  Law,  but  will  have  time  enough  to  do  so  when  it 
comes  on  for  discussion,  and  I  therefore  do  not  know  that  I  can 
endorse  all  your  censure.  .  .  .  The  mistake,  in  my  opinion,  lies 
less  in  the  too  great  influence  of  the  officials  than  in  their  general 
character.  A  State  which  cannot  by  a  good  wholesome  thunder- 
storm tear  itself  away  from  a  bureaucracy  like  ours  is,  and  remains, 
doomed  to  destruction,  since  it  lacks  the  instruments  requisite  for 
the  performance  of  all  the  functions  incumbent  on  a  State,  and  not 
merely  for  the  supervision  of  the  Press. 

"  I  cannot  deny  that,  like  Khalif  Omar,  I  have  a  certain  longing 
not  only  to  annihilate  all  books,  except  the  Christian  *  Koran,  but 
also  to  destroy  the  means  of  restoring  them.  The  art  of  printing  is 
the  choice  weapon  of  anti-Christ ;  more  so,  indeed,  than  gunpowder, 
which,  though  originally  the  chief,  or  at  least  the  most  visible  engine 
for  overturning  natural  political  order  and  establishing  the  sovereign 

*  First  published  in  1884  by  Herr  Wagener,  in  his  Memoirs  (Erlebtes, 
meine  Memoiren  aus  der  Zeit  von  1848  bis  1866,  and  von  1873  bis  jetzt). 


106  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

rocker  de  bronze,  is  now  more  and  more  assuming  the  character  of  a 
salutary  medicine  against  the  evils  created  by  itself — albeit,  perhaps, 
in  some  measure  it  belongs  to  the  physic-stock  of  that  doctor  who 
cured  a  case  of  cancer  in  the  face  by  amputating  the  head.  To  apply 
this  remedy  to  the  Press  were  like  a  fancy  production  in  the  manner 
of  Gal  lot.  .'  .  .  But  our  bureaucracy  is  eaten  up  with  cancer  in 
head  and  limbs,  its  belly  only  is  sound,  and  the  excrements  it  parts 
with  in  the  shape  of  laws  are  the  most  natural  dirt  in  the  world. 
With  this  bureaucracy,  including  judges,  we  might  have  a  Press 
constitution  like  that  of  the  angels,  but  for  all  that  it  would  not  help 
us  out  of  the  ruck.  With  bad  laws  and  good  officials  (judges)  we 
could  always  get  along,  but  with  bad  officials  the  best  laws  would 
avail  us  naught." 

The  Erfurt  Parliament  had  no  sooner  done  its  work 

(in  a  score  of  sittings)  than  it  was  ostensibly  adjourned, 

but  in  reality  dissolved.     The  fear  in  high 

End  of  the  J 

"fondue-tour-  quarters  that  it  had  perhaps  gone  too  far 
prevented  it  from  going  any  farther.  The 
Frankfort  Constitution  had  been  elaborated  by  the 
people,  and  rejected  by  the  Princes ;  while  the  Erfurt 
Charter  was  drafted  by  the  Princes,  and  also  approved 
by  the  people,  but  allowed  by  the  former  to  remain  a 
dead  letter.  A  mere  castle  of  cards,  it  was  blown 
into  a  thousand  directions  by  the  first  reactionary 
breeze.  The  great  mass  of  the  German  people  were 
not  at  all  disappointed  with  the  result  of  the  Erfurt 
"tongue-tournament,"  because  they  had  viewed  it  from 
the  beginning  with  indifference  and  distrust;  yet  the 
liberal  Press  teemed  with  the  bitterest  abuse  of  the 
Prussian  Junker-party,  to  whose  narrow-minded  pa- 
triotism and  egotism  was  attributed  the  failure  of  the 
Confederation.  Bismarck  afterwards  ascribed  the 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  107 

Erfurt  fiasco  mainly  to  the  attitude  of  Hanover  and 
Saxony,  who  dreaded  the  Austrian  army  more  than  they 
trusted  the  Tri- Regal  Alliance  ;  but  he  also  argued  that, 
far  from  frustrating  the  union  plan,  it  was  not  in  the 
power  of  any  party  or  parties  to  make  it  succeed. 

A  week  had  not  elapsed  since  the  adjournment  of 
the  Erfurt  Parliament  when  ambitious  Austria,  egged 
on  by  Eussia,  and  supported  by  several  of  the  anti- 
Prussian  States,  issued  invitations  for  a  plenary  meet- 
ing of  the  old  Diet;  while  about  the  same  time 
a  Congress  of  minor  Princes,  favourable  to  Prussia,  met 
at  Berlin  to  discuss  the  realisation  of 
the  "restricted  union."  Weeks  passed  unSertwo 

rulers. 

in  empty  talk,  and  the  contemplated 
union  became  more  than  ever  restricted.  Indeed, 
it  soon  grew  limited  to  Prussia,  whose  monarch, 
with  the  true  devotion  of  the  philosopher  he  was,  clung 
to  his  pet  theory  when  all  his  disciples  had  dropped  away 
and  joined  the  opposite  school.  Meanwhile  Austria 
had  not  been  idle,  and  the  month  of  September  (1850) 
beheld  the  attainment  of  her  heart's  desire — the  re- 
suscitation of  the  suspended  or  quasi-comatose  Diet. 
Prussia  was  invited  to  resume  her  seat  in  it  under  very 
flattering  conditions,  but  she  refused ;  alleging  that 
she  was  equally  bound  by  honour  and  interest  to  support 
the  "  restricted  union."  Austria  and  Prussia  had  now 
revealed  their  trump  cards.  The  secret  rivalry  which  had 
long  existed  between  these  leading  Powers  now  flashed 
out.  Germany  had  now  two  rulers — a  Princely  College 
at  Erfurt,  and  a  Diet  at  Frankfort,  and  every  moment 


108  FRINGE   BISMAROR. 

increased  the  peril  of  a  quarrel  and  a  collision  between 
them.     The  climax  soon  came. 

The  decisive  apple  of  discord  was  furnished  by  the 
Elector  of  Hesse  who,  animated  by  the  reactionary  spirit 
consequences  which  seized  most  German  Sovereigns  when 
tion  in  slippers  relieved  from  the  pressure  of  the  Revolution, 

and  dressing- 
Was  doing  all  he  could  to  nullify  the  Constitu- 
tion previously  wrung  from  him.  The  people  suffered  much 
at  the  hands  of  this  Hessian  Charles  and  his  Strafford 
(Hassenpflug)  ;  but  there  are  limits  .even  to  the  patience 
of  the  much-enduring  German,  and  at  last  the  Duchy 
rose  to  a  man  against  an  attempt  to  levy  illegal  taxes 
on  it,  though  it  was  a  mere  "  Be  volution  in  slippers 
and  dressing-gown/'  yet  the  despotic  pair  fled  before  it 
to  Frankfort  and  invoked  the  aid  of  the  Diet ;  and  the 
Diet,  suckled  as  it  had  been  on  the  ideas  of  Metternich, 
cheerfully  decreed  the  despatch  of  an  Austro- Bavarian 
army  to  reinstate  the  fugitive  tyrant  on  his  throne.  On 
the  other  hand  Prussia,  deeming  herself  bound  by  the 
terms  of  the  Federal  Union  (to  which  Hesse  had  also 
subscribed)  to  maintain  the  integrity  of  its  Constitution, 
likewise  despatched  a  body  of  troops  to  execute  justice ; 
and  the  two  armies  came  within  sight  of  each  other 
in  the  region  of  Fulda. 

Here,  then,  at  last,  were  the  eager  dogs  of  civil  war 

straining  in  their  leash,  and  to  the  Emperor 

the  first  who       Nicholas  it  was  only  due  that  they  were  not 

fires!"  J 

straightway  slipped.     "I  shall  fire  on  the 
first  who  fires,"  *  he  said,  and  the  Prussians  were  finally 

*  Cited  by  Bismarck  as  a  fact  in  the  course  of  a  speech  on  the 
Eastern  Question  in  the  Reichstag,  19th  February,  1878. 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  109 

withdrawn,  but  not  before  a  military  misunder- 
standing threatened  to  precipitate  the  settlement 
of  the  great  German  question  with  blood  and  iron. 
About  this  time  Count  Brandenburg,  chief  of  the 
"Saving-Deed  Ministry,"  who  had  gone  to  Warsaw  to 
crave  the  mediation  of  the  Czar,  returned  to  Berlin  so 
deeply  wounded  with  the  harsh  and  discouraging  recep- 
tion accorded  him  that  he  fell  into  a  delirious  fever 
which  carried  him  off,  invoking  bloody  vengeance  in  his 
last  moments  for  this  insult  to  the  honour  of  his  King  and 
country.  His  place  was  taken  by  Freiherr  von  Manteuffel, 
a  peace-at-any-price  man,  into  whose  hands  also  Herr 
von  Eadowitz,  the  genius  of  the  "  restricted  union,"  was 
asked  to  commit  the  charge  of  foreign  affairs ;  and  off 
he  started  for  Olmiitz  to  negotiate  peace,  or  rather  the 
aversion  of  war,  with  Schwarzenberg,  the  ambitious 
minister  (and  master)  of  the  youthful  Francis  Joseph. 
Indecision  and  confusion  reigned  in  the  councils  of 
Berlin.  The  Prussian  army  yearned  to  show  its 
prowess,  but  the  King,  who  still  clung  to  the  traditions 
of  the  Holy  Alliance,  shrank  from  the  thought  of 
drawing  the  sword  on  Austria ;  especially  as  the  latter 
was  backed  by  Russia,  and  supported  by  the  most  con- 
siderable of  the  German  States.  Manteuffel  had  been 
instructed  to  make  fair  concessions,  but  Schwarzenberg 
insisted  on  complete  submission;  and  the  usual  diplomatic 
chaffering  ended  in  the  signature  of  a  Convention  which 
bound  Prussia  unconditionally  to  abandon  all  her  union 
projects,  to  let  the  "federal  execution"  take  its  course  in 
Hesse  and  in  the  Elbe  Duchies  (the  former  being  restored 


110  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

^/o  its  tyrannical  Duke,  the  latter  to  the  kidnapping 
Danes),  and  to  recognise  the  restoration  of  the  old 
Germanic  Diet  under  the  presidency  of  Austria. 

This,  then,  was  Olmiitz  (21st  November,  1850). 
Shame  and  exasperation  filled  the  Prussian  mind ;  the 
Austrian  heart  swelled  with  exultation  and 
pride.  Prussia,  who  had  constituted  herself 
the  champion  of  German  unity,  now  stood  convicted  as 
the  betrayer  of  the  national  cause,  and  all  because  a  Ko- 
manticist  sat  on  the  throne  of  the  Csesars.  With  a  brave 
and  invincible  army  at  his  back,  a  full  treasury,  and  a 
devoted  people,  Frederick  William  had  submitted  to  con- 
ditions which  Frederick  the  Great  would  have  spurned 
after  his  regiments  had  been  destroyed,  his  exchequer 
drained,  and  his  subjects  disheartened.  The  bloodless 
defeat  of  Olmiitz  had  brought  Prussia  nearly  as  low  as 
the  bloody  catastrophe  of  Jena ;  but  the  former,  like 
the  latter,  was  only  the  degradation  which  preceded 
victory.  For  another  Freiherr  vom  Stein  was  already  in 
training  to  retrieve  his  country's  sullied  honour,  and 
do  signal  vengeance  on  its  foes. 

The  climax  of  the  national  aspirations  had  now  been 

reached ;  and  it  may  seem  strange  that  the  denouement 

A  oiiticai        °^  ^s  part  of  the  drama  had  no  more  vigor- 

sauipo°f  Sus.     ous  defender  than  the  man  who  was  fated  to 

bring  about  the  anti-climax.  •  The  unconverted  Saul  of 
Tarsus  could  hardly  have  shown  more  zeal  in  perse- 
cuting the  Christians,  than  the  unpersuaded  Herr  von 
Bismarck  displayed  in  scoffing  at  the  Unionists.  Of  these 
Unionists  the  Prussian  champion  had  been  Herr  von 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  Ill 

Radowitz,  who  likewise  counselled  his  Sovereign  to 
resist  the  arrogant  pretensions  of  Austria;  and  when 
Bismarck  heard  of  his  fall,  he  thus  wrote  to  his  friend 
the  editor  of  the  Kreuz-Zeitung ,  7th  November,  1850  :— 

"  On  reading  your  Monday's  budget  of  news,  the  evening  before 
last,  I  was  so  delighted  that  I  rode  round  the  table  on  my  chair,  and 
many  a  bottle  of  champagne  has  been  drunk  to  the  health  of  Herr 
von  Radowitz  on  this  side  of  the  Gallenberg "  (a  water-shed  spur  of 
Pomerania  dividing  it  into  a  somewhat  Liberal  and  a  Reactionary 
half).  "For  the  first  time,  one  feels  grateful  towards  him,  and 
wishes  him  bon  voyage.  My  mind  has  now  been  quite  relieved,  and 
I  quite  share  your  feelings.  Now  let  there  be  war,  where  and  with 
whom  you  like ;  and  all  our  Prussian  sword-blades  will  glitter  high 
and  blithely  in  the  sun.  I  feel  as  if  an  incubus  had  been  taken  from 
my  breast,  albeit  Heydt  and  Ladenberg  (two  obnoxious  ministers), 
whom  we  thought  we  had  already  digested  between  us,  come  up 
again  sour  to  the  taste." 

Bismarck    defended    Olmutz,  and   his    motives    for 
doing  so  were  mixed.*     In  the  first  place,  he  well  knew 
that  Prussia  was  not  at  all  in  a  position     The  defendep 
to   take    the    field    against    Austria    with 
anything   like   the  prospect   of   success,    and   he   may 
have    looked    upon    Olmutz    as,    on   the   whole,   the 
lesser    of    two    evils.     It    is    true,    he    had    always 
sneered  at  the  various  lines  of  policy  which  Prussia  had 
now  consented  to  abandon  ;  but  above  all  things  he  was 

*  Here  is  what  Herr  Wagener  (editor  of  the  Kreuz-Zeitung)  says  of 
Olmutz : — "  Herr  von  Bismarck  would  not  have  been  and  remained  our 
partisan,  just  as  he  scarcely  would  have  then  drawn  me  closer  to  him, 
had  he  not  known  that  I  was  in  agreement  with  the  schemes  which  he  even 
then  cherished,  though  they  could  only  gradually  come  to  be  executed. 
Olmiitz  was  felt  as  deeply  by  us  as  by  any  other ;  nevertheless,  we  did  not 
act  like  drunken  demagogues,  but  like  responsible  politicians  who  saw  the 
wisdom  of  eating  cold  the  dish  of  their  revenge." — Heine  Memoiren,  etc, 


112  PRINCE   BI8M.IROK* 

a  patriot,  and  a  patriot,  too,  of  the  martial  type,  to  whom 
the  honour  of  the  army  was  as  dear  as  his  own  ;  and 
though  he  may  have  rejoiced  that  the  schemes  of  Prince 
Schwarzenberg  had  triumphed  over  those  of  Herr  von 
Eadowitz,  he  could  scarcely  have  been  free  from  a  pang 
of  bitterness  at  the  humiliating  way  in  which  the  victory 
had  been  achieved.  It  is  certain,  at  least,  that  what  he 
now  defended  as  a  blessing,  he  subsequently  vowed  to 
avenge  as  a  shame  and  a  curse ;  and  perhaps  it  might 
hit  the  truth  to  suppose  that  his  defence  of  Olmiitz 
was  inspired  by  the  blended  motives  of  the  patriot 
who  argues  from  conviction,  and  the  partisan  who 
votes  from  duty.  The  Government  had  irrevocably 
committed  itself  to  a  grave  act  of  policy,  and  we  have 
seen  how  Bismarck  occasionally  supported  a  ministry 
whose  particular  actions  he  did  not  approve.  What 
foreigners  would  think  of  his  country  was  a  considera- 
tion ever  present  to  his  mind ;  and  his  patriotism,  there- 
fore, prompted  him  to  make  his  Sovereign  appear  in  the 
right,  even  when  half  convinced,  perhaps,  that  he  was 
in  the  wrong.  Dr.  Johnson  never  took  more  pains  to 
report  the  debates  of  Parliament  to  the  detriment  of  the 
"  Whig  dogs/'  than  Bismarck  has  always  taken  to  inter- 
pret the  acts  of  the  Prussian  Crown  in  a  wise  and  glorious 
light.  Besides,  he  was  willing  to  pardon  anything  in  a 
And  the  Mend  Government  which  showed  a  resolute  front 
against  democracy,  the  counteracting  of 
which  he  meanwhile  regarded  as  a  far  more  pressing 
task  than  the  establishment  of  national  unity ;  and  as 
Austria  had  shown  far  greater  zeal  in  the  former  direc- 


PARLIAMENTARY   CAREER.  113 

fcion  than  in  the  latter,  Bismarck  was  fain  almost  to  hail 
the  temporary  subordination  of  the  Hohenzollerns  to 
the  Hapsburgs  as  a  certain  means  of  rooting  out  the 
last  seeds  of  that  Revolution  which  had  already,  in  his 
opinion,  borne  such  baneful  fruit. 

The  speech  in  which  he  defended  the  policy  of 
Olmiitz.was  remarkable  as  a  piece  of  special  pleading. 
On  3rd  December  Freiherr  von  Manteuffel,  returned 
from  Olmiitz,  had  given  to  the  Lower  Chamber  a  some- 
what meagre  account  of  his  mission,  and  in  the  ensuing 
debate  on  the  address  the  Liberals  moved  that  the  King 
should  be  asked  to  dismiss  advisers  who  had  placed  the 
country  in  such  a  fatal  position.  Bismarck  warmly 
opposed  the  motion. 

The  fact,  he  argued,  that  the  nation  had  risen  as  it  were  (on  the 
army  being  mobilised  to  support  the  Hessians  against  their  tyrant 
rulers)  at  the  call  of  the  King  did  not  prove  that  it  had  any  real 
understanding  of  the  question  at  issue,  but  only  that  it  was  imbued 
as  of  old  with  loyalty  and  unreasoning  obedience,  virtues  which  were 
sadly  wanting  in  the  representatives  of  the  people.  The  address 
spoke  of  the  time  as  great,  but  he  found  it  exceedingly  petty ;  and 
then  he  went  on  to  detail  the  dangers  and  horrors  of  a  war  between 
Prussia  and  two  of  three  great  Continental  powers  (Austria  and 
Russia),  while  a  third  (France)  stood  arming  and  "  lusting  after 
booty  on  their  borders."  But  he  would  not  even  shrink  from  such 
a  war  if  any  one  could  prove  it  had  a  worthy  object,  and  was 
prompted  neither  by  the  spirit  of  robbery  nor  of  romanticism.  The 
national  honour,  to  his  mind,  did  not  consist  in  Prussia  playing  the 
Don  Quixote  everywhere  in  Germany  for  "  mortified  Chamber 
celebrities  "  who  deemed  their  Constitution  in  danger,  but  rather  in 
holding  aloof  from  shameful  alliance  with  democracy — both  in  Hesse, 
where  the  quarrel  was  not  worth  a  pinch  of  powder,  and  in  Schleswig- 
Holstein  whose  revolutionary  way  of  asserting  its  rights  he  could  not 
approve.  How  German  unity  was  to  be  promoted  by  a  Sonderbund, 

I 


114  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

which  sought  to  shoot  and  murder  in  the  South,  and  remove  the 
centre  of  gravity  of  the  question  to  Paris  and  Warsaw,  he  could  not 
Bee ;  and  if  Prussia  went  to  war  for  her  union  idea — "  that  mongrel 
product  of  timid  rulers  and  tame  revolution,"  which  would  have  the 
effect  of  mediatising  her  under  the  Chambers  of  the  petty  States — 
she  "  would  only  resemble  the  Englishman  who  fought  a  victorious 
combat  witli  a  sentinel  in  order  to  be  able  to  hang  himself  in  the 
sentry-box,  a  right  he  claimed  for  himself  and  every  free  Briton." 
But  if  war  were  waged  for  the  idea,  "  it  would  not  be  long  before 
violent  hands  would  wrench  from  the  Federalists  the  last  shreds  of 
their  union-mantle,  and  leave  nothing  but  the  red  underlining."  He 
could  not  understand  those  who  spoke  of  Austria  as  a  non-German 
Power,  simply  because  she  had  the  good  fortune  to  rule  over  mixed 
races  which  had  been  subdued  by  German  arms  ;  he  looked  upon 
Austria  as  the  representative  and  heir  of  an  ancient  Power  which  had 
often  and  gloriously  wielded  the  national  sword.  The  proposed  war 
was  one  of  democratic  propaganda,  but  the  Prussian  standard  should 
not  mark  the  gathering  ground  for  all  the  political  outcasts  of  Europe ; 
and  on  every  one  who  could  prevent  the  war  but  would  not,  he 
"invoked  the  curse  of  every  honest  soldier  who  dies  for  a  cause 
which  in  his  heart  he  despises  and  damns." 

Despises  and  damns  !     That  was  the  last  that  was 

heard  of  the  German  question  in  the  Prussian  Chamber 

for  many  years  to  come.     A  few  weeks  after 

Germalfques-6     the  Olmiitz  debate,  Dresden  became  the  scene 

tion. 

of  "free  ministerial  conferences  J>  under  the 
patronage  of  Austria,  which  merely  ended  in  confirming 
the  Olmutz  Convention  of  November,  and  in  re -erecting 
the  old  Bund  on  the  ruins  of  the  national  plans  and 
hopes.  The  debating,  the  fighting,  the  bloodshed,  all 
the  promises  of  kings,  the  efforts  of  patriots  and  the 
dreams  of  philosophers,  had  come  to  nothing;  and 
things  had  returned  with  mortifying  exactness  to  the 
status  quo.  Bismarck  hailed  with  apparent  joy  the 


PARLIAMENTARY    CAREER.  115 

abandonment  of  schemes  which,  however  high  and 
praiseworthy  in  themselves,  were  still  incapable  of  bear- 
ing fruit,  and  the  return  to  the  loose  Confederation  of 
old.  It  was  about  this  time  that  he  challenged  the 
Chamber  "  to  point  to  any  period  in  German  history 
since  the  days  of  the  Hohenstaufens,  apart  from  the 
Spanish  supremacy  of  Charles  V.,  when  Germany  en- 
joyed greater  respect  abroad,  with  a  higher  degree  of 
political  unity  and  a  greater  authority  in  diplomacy,  than 
during  the  time  when  the  (much  abused)  Bundestag 
(Diet)  managed  the  foreign  relations  of  the  nation." 

A  man,  thought  the  King,  who  was  such  a  devoted 
admirer  of  Austria,  and  had  such  a  high  opinion  of  the 
Diet,  had  better  be  sent  to  it ;  so  Herr  von  Bismarck 
was  raised  per  saltum  to  the  rank  of  Privy 
Councillor  of  Legation,  and  made  secretary     Privy  councii- 

J        lor  of  Legation. 

to  the  Prussian  member  (Herr  von  Eochow) 
of  the  representative  Assembly  of  German  Sovereigns  at 
Frankfort.  His  appointment  was  the  idea  of  the  King 
himself  who,  with  all  his  faults,  was  an  excellent 
judge  of  character.  Even  as  early  as  1848  His  Majesty 
had  been  inclined  to  give  Bismarck  a  portfolio,*  and 

*  In  his  "  Die  Politik  Friedrich  Wilhelm  IV."  (Berlin  1883),  Herr 
Wagener  (ex-editor  of  the  Kreuz-Zeitung)  writes: — "It  was  this  man 
(Freiherr  Senfft  von  Pilsach)  who,  in  August,  1848,  and  afterwards  in 
March,  1854  (before  the  outbreak  of  the  Crimean  "War)  recommended  the 
King  to  make  Bismarck  a  minister ;  but  his  proposals  came  to  nothing 
through  the  opposition  of  those  immediately  about  the  King,  who,  in  the 
former  case  (1848)  urged  that  Herr  von  Bismarck  was  too  inexperienced 
and  unpopular,  and  at  the  same  time  somewhat  too  much  of  a  Hotspur ; 
while  on  the  second  occasion  (1854)  they  resisted  the  suggestion,  not  as 
thinking  that  Herr  von  Bismarck  was  unqualified  for  the  post,  but  because 
they  did  not  wish  to  see  Herr  von  Manteuffel  go  out  of  office." 

i  2 


116  PRINCE   SISM^ROK. 

was  only  turned  from  his  purpose  by  those  who  held 
the  Junker  to  be  too  unpopular,  inexperienced,  and 
fiery.  But  if  his  youth  had  rendered  him  unfit  for  the 
post  of  minister,  his  training  had  been  the  opposite  of 
that  which  qualifies  for  a  diplomatic  career;  and  yet 
Bismarck  accepted  the  appointment  that  had  been 
offered  him  at  Frankfort  without  the  least  hesitation. 
He  had  been  suddenly  dazzled  with  the  prospect  of  a 
"  carrier  e  ouverte  aux  talents"  and  he  embraced  it  with 
a  decision  which  implied  boundless  confidence  in  his 
native  fitness  for  it. 

His  parliamentary  life  was  now  over,  and  the  best 
introduction  he  carried  with  him  to  his  colleagues  at 
Frankfort  was  the  reputation  which  he  had  acquired 
during  this  career :  a  reputation  for  unflinching  loyalty 
Hisdi  lomatio  ^°  ^e  Crown,  an^  f°r  a  Conservatism  which 
stock-m-trade.  ^ad  been  branded  not  only  as  "  medieval " 
but  as  "  antediluvian ;  "  for  startling  originality  in  his 
views,  and  fearlessness  in  expressing  them ;  for  a 
rugged  style  of  speech  which,  though  not  eloquent,  was 
persuasive ;  for  great  fertility  of  resource  in  debate, 
with  an  impetuous  mode  of  attack  and  a  scathing 
power  of  reply ;  for  wit,  and  humour,  and  a  fertile  fancy ; 
for  an  inimitable  power  of  telling  a  story  ;  for  mastery 
of  the  details  of  constitutional  law  and  of  military 
organisation ;  for  an  extensive  knowledge  of  modern 
history  and  languages,  balanced  by  a  surprising  acquaint- 
ance with  classic  lore  ;  for  high-souled  honour,  for 
burning  patriotism,  and  for  having  in  him  the  making 
of  a  great  man. 


CHAPTER    IV. 

DIPLOMATIC      CAREEB. 
1.  At  Frankfort. 

THE  Diet  of  Frankfort,  at  which  Herr  von  Bismarck 
now  began  to  figure,  was  the  Administrative  Council,  so 
to  speak,  of  the  Germanic  Confederation 

Constitution 

founded  by  the  Congress  of  Vienna  in  1815. 


-r^     .    ..  .  r»      T  TL         manic  Diet. 

But  it  was  in  no  sense  a  Parliament.  Its 
sittings  were  secret.  It  made  no  laws.  Its  legislative 
functions  were  confined  to  the  voting  of  ordinances, 
and  its  executive  power  was  so  brittle  and  uncertain 
that  it  sometimes  even  failed  to  enforce  these.  It  did 
not  contain  a  single  representative  of  the  various 
peoples  of  whose  destinies  it  arrogated  the  control. 
The  Grermanic  Confederation  was  nothing  but  a  loose 
League  of  Sovereigns  who  aimed  at  preserving  order  in 
their  own  dominions,  and  at  presenting  a  united  front 
to  foreign  aggression  ;  and  of  this  alliance  the  Diet  was 
the  outward  expression  and  organ.  It  was  composed  of 
seventeen  delegates  representing  the  various  sovereign 
States  and  Cities  of  Grermany  —  more  than  thirty  in 
number—  and  was  presided  over  by  Austria.*  In  theory 

*  In  the  Diet  there  was  one  representative  for  each  of  the  following 
equal  votes  :  1,  Austria  \  2,  Prussia  ;  3,  Bavaria  ;  4,  Kingdom  of  Saxony  ; 


118  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

it  could  receive  and  send  diplomatic  missions;  but, 
though  the  leading  Powers  of  Europe  were  always 
represented  at  the  Diet,  it  never  exercised  its  own 
prerogative  in  this  respect  save  in  one  or  two  special 
cases,  such  as  its  appointment  of  Baron  von  der 
Pfordten  and  Count  Beust  to  attend  the  London  Con- 
ferences about  the  Elbe  Duchies.  In  like  manner,  its 
theoretical  right  to  make  treaties  was  never  exercised, 
though  various  conventions  contracted  by  its  members 
with  each  other  and  with  foreign  States  were  laid  before 
it,  and,  if  recognised,  were  supposed  to  become  binding 
on  all  the  Confederation.  But  the  leading  States 
jealously  guarded  their  own  exclusive  rights  in  treaty 
matters,  and  were  anxious  that  the  Diet  should  rather 
serve  as  a  mere  court  of  registration  than  as  a  court  of 
revision.  The  consequences  were  grave.  The  omission 
of  Austria  and  Prussia  to  submit  to  the  Diet  the  Treaty 
of  London  (of  1852),  regulating,  as  by  a  kind  of  new 
Pragmatic  Sanction,  the  succession  to  the  Danish  Crown, 
resulted  in  its  repudiation  by  the  minor  Powers  of  the 
Germanic  body,  and  in  the  serious  complications  to 
which  we  shall  afterwards  have  to  refer. 

Thus   it    will   be   seen   that,    though  representing 

5,  Hanover ;  6,  "Wurtemberg ;  7,  Grand  Duchy  of  Baden ;  8,  Electorate  of 
(or  Kur-)  Hesse;  9,  Grand-Ducal  Hesse;  10,  Denmark  (for  the  Elbe 
Duchies) ;  11,  The  Netherlands  (for  Limburg  and  Luxemburg) ;  12, 
Duchies  of  Saxe-Meiningen,  Saxe-Coburg-Gotha  and  Saxe-Altenburg 
(called  the  Ernestines) ;  13,  Brunswick  and  Nassau ;  14,  the  two  Mecklen- 
burgs  (Schwerin  and  Strelitz);  15,  Oldenburg,  Auhalt,  and  the  two 
Schwarzburgs  (Rudolstadt  and  Soiidershausen) ;  16,  the  Transparencies, 
or  Durchlauchten,  including  Lichenstein,  Reuss,  Schaumburg-Lippe, 
Lippe-Detmold,  Waldeck,  and  Hesse-Homburg ;  17,  the  Free  Cities 
(Lubeck,  Frankfort,  Bremen,  and  Hamburg). 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  119 

Sovereigns,  the  Diet  was  anything  but  sovereign  in  its 
relations  to  foreign  States ;  and  even  in  domestic  affairs 
its  influence  was  by  no  means  supreme.  Its  impotent 
pretentiousness  frequently  made  it  the  laughing-stock 
of  all  Europe.  •  Whether  it  would  have  been  able  to 
oppose  a  united  Germany  to  foreign  aggression  it  is 
impossible  to  say,  as  it  never  had  to  try  during  its 
existence ;  but  in  the  achievement  of  its  other  main 
object — the  preservation  of  internal  order — it  more  than 
once  signally  failed.  It  was  powerless  to  put  down  the 
Ee volution  of  1848;  its  orders  were  discarded  and 
laughed  at ;  and  it  had  even  been  temporarily  swept  aside 
by  a  passing  wave  of  popular  discontent.  It  rendered 
itself  obnoxious  to  the  nation  by  its  invariable  tendency 
to  side  with  its  own  sovereign  members  in  constitutional 
conflicts  with  their  subjects.  It  winked  hard  at  tyranny, 
and  it  required  the  most  flagrant  injustice  to  be  done 
to  rouse  it  to  any  action  against  an  established  Govern- 
ment. But  its  encouragement  of  despotism  was  nothing 
to  its  inveterate  habit  of  delay ;  and  in  this  respect  the 
Germanic  Diet  acquired  a  reputation  similar  to  that 
formerly  enjoyed  by  the  English  Court  of  Chancery. 

But  even  these  inherent  evils  were  insignificant  com- 
pared with  the  block  to  business  from  another  cause. 
The  Diet  was  as  full  of  jealousies  and  intrigues  as  the 
palace  or  the  harem  of  the  Sultan.  It  was  less  a  Diet 
than  a  diplomatic  conference.  When  Charles  V.  said  that 
the  German  race  was  "  dreamy,  drunken,  and  incapable 
of  intrigue,"*  he  little  thought  how  the  latter  part  of 

*  Motley's  "  Rise  of  the  Dutch  republic."    Part  L,  Chapter  1. 


120  PRINOE   BISMAEOK. 

his  apothegm,  but  the  latter  part  only,  would  be 
falsified  by  the  consequential  knot  of  bestarred  and 
beribboned  gentlemen  who  were  to  sit  at  Frankfort 
from  the  second  to  the  seventh  decade  of  the  nineteenth 
century.  When  the  two  leading  members  were  agreed 
on  any  matter,  the  proceedings  of  the  Diet  were  prompt 
and  decisive ;  but,  if  Austria  and  Prussia  differed,  the 

.  game  of  chicane  and  manoeuvring  knew  no  bounds. 
Whether  to  support  a  Conservative  Power  which  they 
loved,  or  a  Liberal  Power  which  they  feared,  was  then 
the  question  which  agitated  the  minds  of  the  minor 
States,  and  it  rarely  happened  that  their  eventual  de- 
cision was  prompted  as  much  by  honour  as  by  interest. 
With  all  its  faults,  however,  the  Diet  contained  some 
of  Germany's  best  intellects ;  while  in  it  "  every  throb 
of  the  heart  of  the  great  Fatherland  had  its  responsive 
pulsation,  and  nothing  that  occurred  within  or  without 
its  limits,  having  the  slightest  connection  with  national 
interests,  passed  unnoticed."* 

The  re-galvanised  Diet  re-assembled  in  May  (1851), 
and  Bismarck,  whose  appointment  was  dated  the  10th 

<  A"di  lomatio     °^  ^na^  month,  lost  no  time  in  repairing  to 

his   post.      Like    his    first    appearance    in 

Parliament,  his  nomination  to  Frankfort  was  received 

*  For  the  substance  of  this  brief  account  of  the  Diet — apart  from 
Karl  Fischer's  "  Die  Nation  und  der  Bundestag"  (Leipzig,  1880) — we 
have  be.en  mainly  indebted  to  "  The  Overthrow  of  the  Germanic  Con- 
federation by  Prussia  in  1866,"  by  Sir  Alexander  Malet,  Bart.,  &c.,  who 
represented  her  Britannic  Majesty  at  Frankfort  from  1852  to  1866,  and 
who  lived  in  familiar  intercourse  with  Herr  von  Bismarck  for  the  first 
half  of  that  period.  And  yet  Sir  Alexander,  in  his  preface,  refers  to  his 
friend  as  "  Freiberr,  or  (as  it  is  usually  rendered)  Baron  v.  Bismarck !  " 


DIPLOMATIC    CAEEEH.  121 

by  the  Opposition  Press  with  sneers  and  laughter.  One 
journal  called  him  a  "  diplomatic  suckling,"  while 
another  remarked  that  "  this  fellow  had  impudence 
enough  to  undertake  the  command  of  a  frigate,  or  a 
surgical  operation,  though  equally  ignorant  of  both,  if 
asked  to  do  so.*  By  his  own  colleagues  at  the  Diet,  on 
the  other  band,  he  would  seem  to  have  been  welcomed 
with  about  as  much  cordiality  as  that  wherewith  a 
dovecote  might  open  its  doors  to  a  bird  of  strange  and 
unfamiliar  plumage.  Bismarck  himself  once  described 
the  Diet  as  composed  of  a  "  drowsy,  insipid  set  of 
creatures,  endurable  only  when  I  appeared  among  them 
like  so  much  pepper."  Deep  and  incurable  is  the  con- 
ventionality of  the  bureaucratic- German  mind,  and 
heads  were  shaken  at  the  unwonted  sight  of  diplomacy 
being  adopted  by  a  man  who,  above  all  things,  had 
never  passed  his  final  State  examination ;  t  who  had 
spent  the  greater  part  of  his  youth  and  manhood  among 
horses,  cattle,  and  country  farmers ;  who  was  only  a 
lieutenant  of  militia  with  one  decoration  (it  was  for 
saving  life,  not  destroying  it) ;  and  whose  manners 

*  "  That  was  the  way,"  said  the  Chancellor  once  in  the  Reichstag  (21st 
February,  1879),  "  in  which  the  Liberal  prints  recommended  me  to  my 
Frankfort  colleagues,  especially  the  Austrians.  But  still,  gentlemen,  the 
surgical  operation "  (amputation  of  a  mortified  Austrian  limb  from  the 
German  body-politic)  "  was  afterwards  performed  to  your  satisfaction,  as 
I  believe." 

t  In  a  despatch  to  his  chief  at  Berlin,  Bismarck  wrote : — "  While  be- 
lauding Herr  v.  Prokesch,  the  Postamts-Zeitung  has  had  its  fling  at  me, 
asserting  that  I  was  never  anything  but  an  Auscultator  (law-student 
attached  to  a  court)  and  a  country  squire,  but  I  must  confess  that,  apart 
from  the  fact  of  its  entirely  ignoring  the  jolly  time  I  spent  as  a  Referen- 
dary (or  official  law-reporter),  I  can  see  no  shame  in  all  that," 


122  FRINGE    BISMARCK. 

were  still  sometimes  apt  to  be  overbearing  and  bump- 
tious. 

But  long  before  bis  colleagues  could   quite  agree  as 

to  the  character  of  the  strange  new-comer,   Bismarck 

had  looked  them  through  and  through  with 

as  a  portrait-       a  single  glance.     He  had  weighed  them  in 

painter. 

the  balance,  and  found  most  of  them  want- 
ing. Pending  his  initiation  into  business  he  occupied 
himself  in  studying  the  diplomatists  around  him  with 
"  the  calm  of  a  naturalist,"  and  before  he  had  been  a 
week  in  Frankfort,  his  Chief  at  Berlin  (Herr  von  Man- 
teuffel)  was  in  possession  of  a  gallery  of  portraits,  male 
and  female,  from  the  pen  of  Herr  von  Bismarck,  which 
His  Austrian  might  well  excite  the  envy  of  the  literary 

colleges.  limner         Take>    for    example?    the    following 

sketch  of  the  Austrians  at  the  Diet,  thrown  off  at  a 
single  sitting :  * 

"  Count  Thun  has  somewhat  of  a  bumptious  appearance,  with  a 
touch  of  the  Vienna  roue  about  him.  But  the  sins  which  he  com- 
mits in  the  latter  capacity  he  tries  to  make  up  for  in  his  own  eyes, 
and  in  those  of  his  Countess,  by  strictly  observing  the  precepts  of 
the  Catholic  Church.  He  plays  hazard  (macao)  at  the  club  till  four 
in  the  morning,  or  dances  from  ten  to  five  without  ceasing,  and  with 
evident  passion,  drinking  plenty  of  iced  champagne  all  the  while,  and 
pays  court  to  the  pretty  wives  of  the  merchants  with  an  ostentation 
that  makes  one  believe  he  does  so  as  much  to  make  an  impression  on 
the  spectators  as  to  give  himself  pleasure.  Under  this  exterior 
Count  Thun  conceals,  I  will  not  say  high  political  energy  and  mental 
gifts,  but  an  unusual  degree  of  cleverness  and  calculation,  that  issue 
with  great  presence  of  mind  from  under  the  mask  of  harmless  bon- 
homie as  soon  as  politics  come  into  question.  I  consider  him  an 

•From  his  published  despatches  during  the  Frankfort  period: 
"  Preussen  im  Bundestag,"  &c.,  to  be  afterwards  characterised.  See  p.  147 1 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  123 

opponent  that  might  be  dangerous  to  everybody  who  honestly  trusts 
him,  instead  of  paying  him  back  in  his  own  coin.  If  I  may  venture 
to  give  an  opinion,  in  spite  of  the  short  experience  I  have  had,  it  is 
that  we  must  never  expect  from  statesmen  of  the  Schwarzenberg 
school "  (of  which  Count  Thun  was  the  faithful  exponent)  "  that  they 
will  accept  or  maintain  justice  as  the  basis  of  their  policy  for  the  sole 
reason  that  it  is  justice ;  their  way  of  looking  at  things  seems  to  me 
to  be  more  that  of  a  player  who  considers  chances,  and  who  in  his 
manner  of  profiting  by  them  administers  at  the  same  time  to  his 
vanity  by  cloaking  himself  with  the  pert  and  contemptuous  careless- 
ness of  an  elegant  and  insouciant  cavalier.  Of  them  one  may  say, 
with  that  slater  who  exclaimed  in  falling  from  the  roof  of  a  house  : 
Qa  va  bien,  pourvu  que  cela  dure.} 

"The  second  in  command  (at  the  Austrian  embassy)  is  Baron  Nell 
von  Nellenburg.  A  clever  publicist,  as  the  saying  is ;  he  is  nearly 
fifty,  writes  poetry  occasionally,  is  sentimental,  falls  to  weeping 
readily  at  the  theatre,  has  an  appearance  of  good  nature  and 
agreeableness,  drinks  more  than  he  can  stand,  and  is  said  to  have 
had  family  misfortune. 

"Thefaiseur  proper  of  the  embassy  seems  to  be  Baron  Brenner,  a 
tall,  handsome  man  of  about  forty,  who  formerly,  and  till  he  was 
appointed  here,  is  said  to  have  had  some  influence  in  Italy  in  the 
shaping  of  Austrian  policy  there.  He  gives  one  the  impression  of 
being  a  man  of  considerable  intellect  and  information  ;  passes  for  an 
Ultramontane,  which  does  not  keep  him  from  paying  homage  to  the 
fair  sex,  and  from  descending  in  his  endeavours  in  this  respect  to 
the  middle  ranks  of  society  here.  Towards  gentlemen,  as  a  class,  as 
well  as  towards  us,  he  preserves  an  aristocratic  reserve." 

But  while,  for  the  benefit  of  his  official  Chief  at 
Berlin,  Herr  von  Bismarck  thus  began  his  career  at  the 
Diet   by   hitting   off    his    colleagues,    and 
telling    how    they     gambled    and    drank,     itf|  a?  Frank- 
philandered,    intrigued,    and    danced,*    he . 
unbosomed  himself  to  his  intimate  friends  in  a  much 

*  "  Apart  from  Fran  von  Brint's  salon,  in  which  there  is  very  high 
gambling  every  day,  amongst  the  ladies  also,  society  here  did  not  give  any 


124  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

more  general  and  out-spoken  manner ;  and  the  peculiar 
merit  of  the  following  characterisation  of  diplomatic 
life  at  Frankfort  arises  from  the  fact  that  it  was  the 
result  of  only  a  few  days'  observation : — 

"  Frankfort  is  terribly  dull,"  he  wrote  to  his  wife.  "  I  have  been 
so  spoiled  with  so  much  affectation  around  me  ....  that  I  now 
see  for  the  first  time  how  ungrateful  I  have  ever  been  to  many 
people  in  Berlin  ;  for,  quite  apart  from  you  and  yours,  who  are  out 
of  the  question,  even  the  cold  measure  of  county  and  party  leanings 
dealt  out  to  me  there  is  quite  intimate  friendship  to  what  one 
meets  here,  which,  summed  up,  is  nothing  other  than  mutual  mis- 
trust and  espionage  ;  and  then  if  there  was  only  anything  to  spy 
out  and  conceal !  Nothing  but  miserable  trifles  do  these  people 
trouble  themselves  about ;  and  the  diplomatists  here  strike  me  as 
being  infinitely  more  ridiculous  with  their  important  ponderosity 
concerning  gathered  rags  of  gossip  than  even  a  member  of  the  Second 
Chamber  in  the  full  consciousness  of  his  dignity.  If  foreign  events  do 
not  occur,  and  these  we  superhumanly  clever  beings  of  the  Bund  can 
neither  foretell  nor  direct,  I  know  very  well  what  we  shall  have 
arrived  at  in  one,  two,  or  five  years'  time,  and  am  prepared  to  reach 
the  same  end  in  twenty-four  hours,  if  only  the  others  will  be  truthful 
and  sensible  for  one  single  day.  I  never  doubted  that  they  all  cook 
with  water,  but  such  plain,  barefaced  water-soup,  without  even  the 
faintest  trace  of  stock,  astonishes  me.  Send  the  village  clerk,  or  the 

sign  of  life  till  last  Friday,  when  there  was  a,  fete  at  Lord  Oowley's  "  (after- 
wards ambassador  at  Paris)  "  in  honour  of  Queen  Victoria.  The  Dowager 
Duchess  of  Nassau  (nee  Princess  of  Wurtemberg)  was  there  with  her 
unmarried  daughter ;  the  latter  danced  with  all  the  Powers  represented 
here  except  us;  she  did  not  dance  with  a  single  Prussian."  .  .  . 
"  Diplomacy  here  is  fond  of  a  hop ;  not  only  Thun,  but  Talleuay  (the 
French  Envoy),  who  is  more  than  fifty  years  old,  and  Count  Briey,  the 
representative  of  Belgium,  and  Lord  Cowley  himself,  danced  and  took 
regular  part  in  a  cotillon  which  lasted  two  hours.  The  rooms  .were  de- 
corated very  gaily  with  the  flags  of  all  the  German  States,  and  opposite  the 
English  arms,  which  were  suspended  from  the  wall  in  the  form  of  a  shield, 
were  those  of  the  German  Confederation — the  double-eagle  without  the 
crown." 


DIPLOMATIC   OAH.EER.  125 

toll-keeper,  here ;  and,  after  they  have  been  properly  washed  and 
combed,  I  will  make  a  sensation  with  them  amongst  the  diplomats. 
I  am  making  giant  strides  in  the  art  of  saying  nothing  in  a  great 
many  words.  I  write  reports  pages  long,  as  rounded  and  polished 
as  leading  articles ;  and  if  Manteuffel  (the  Foreign  Minister),  after  he 
has  read  them,  can  say  what  is  in  them,  he  can  do  more  than  I  can. 
We  all  play  at  believing  that  each  of  us  is  crammed  full  of  ideas  and 
plans  if  he  would  only  speak,  and  we  are  every  one  of  us  perfectly 
well  aware  that  all  of  us  together  are  not  a  hair  better  as  to  know- 
ledge of  what  will  become  of  Germany  than  Gossamer  Summer.  No 
one,  not  even  the  most  malicious  democrat,  can  form  a  conception  of 
the  charlatanism  and  self-importance  of  our  assembled  diplomacy." 

To  his  political  friend,  Herr  Wagener,  editor  of  the 
Kreuz-Zeitung>  he  wrote  also  in  a  similar  strain  (5th 
June) : — * 

"  It  is  incredibly  dull  here,  the  only  man  who  pleases  me  being 
Schele,  the  Hanoverian  member.  Under  the  mask  of  a  roystering  sort 
of  bonhomie,  the  Austrians  intrigue,  .  .  .  and  seek  to  play  us  out 
with  the  fiddle-faddle  matters  of  form  which  have  hitherto  been  our 
sole  occupation.  The  men  of  the  minor  States  are  mostly  mere 
caricatures  of  periwig  diplomatists,  who  at  once  put  on  their  official 
visage  if  I  merely  beg  of  them  a  light  to  my  cigar,  and  who  study 
their  words  and  looks  with  Regensburg  care  when  they  ask  for  the 
key  of  the  lavatory.  .  .  .  With  us  (Prussians)  each  man  sings 
his  own  song,  slanders  the  others,  and  writes  special  reports  to 
Berlin.  .  .  .  But  if  ever  I  come  to  stand  on  my  own  legs  here, 
I  shall  either  cleanse  my  field  of  weeds  or  go  home  again  more  than 
suddenly." 

It  was  not,  indeed,  long  before  he  came  to  stand  on 
his  own  legs  at  Frankfort.  Though  he  had 

made  his    debut  there   as  first  secretary  to     lations  to  Ma 

.       .       chief- 
the  Prussian  representative  in  the  Diet,  it 

was  well  understood  that   this   appointment  was  only 

*  "  Heine  Memoiren"  &c.,  by  Herr  Wagener. 


126  PRINCE  BISMAUOK. 

provisional,  and  that  he  would  step  into  the  shoes  of 
his  Chief  as  soon  as  the  latter  could  be  provided  with  a 
post  better  suited  to  his  character.  What  was  wanted 
of  the  Prussian  member  was  energetic  force  of  initiative, 
and  power  of  coping  with  the  passive  resistance  of 
Austria;  and  these  essential  qualities,  wrote  Bismarck 
himself  with  audacious  freedom  of  his  superior,  General 
von  Eochow  did  not  possess.  That  the  old  General  should 
receive  with  effusive  warmth  the  secretary  by  whom  he 
knew  he  was  to  be  superseded,  was  not  to  be  expected ; 
but  Bismarck  seems  to  have  credited  him  with  more 
malice  than  he  was  really  guilty  of,  and  he  repeatedly 
complained  of  being  kept  in  the  dark  by  his  Chief  in 
matters  of  business,  "  who  thus  deprives  his  '  diplomatic 
suckling/  as  I  have  been  called,  of  his  proper  nourish- 
ment." "  About  my  Chief,"  wrote  Bismarck  to  his 
friend  Wagener,  "  I  would  rather  not  express  myself  in 
writing." 

But  his  Chief  himself  had  no  such  scruples  with 

respect   to   his    secretary.      For    thus    wrote    General 

Eochow   to    Herr   von   Manteuffel   of   the 

opinion  of  Bis-     man  who  was  to  succeed  him,  after  at  last 

marck. 

he  had  been  told  of  his   own  transference 
to  St.  Petersburg  (5th  July,  1851)  :- 

"  What  in  present  circumstances  were  advantageous  and  possible 
for  Germany,  what  can  be  achieved  here  in  these  respects,  how  the 
representatives  of  the  Federal  Sovereigns  are  to  be  severally  treated, 
and  what  is  required  for  maintaining  Prussia's  rights  and  interests, 
your  Excellency  has  long  since  perceived.  Decision  and  firmness  of 
character,  dignity  and  decorum  in  conduct,  affability  in  social  inter- 
course, a  mature  knowledge  of  human  nature,  prudence  in  language, 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREEti.  127 

the  gift  of  awakening  confidence  and  of  acquiring  respect,  as  well  as 
experience  of  business — such  are  the  qualities  pre-eminently  necessary 
for  this  purpose.  The  distinguished  man,  whom  the  King's  Majesty 
in  his  wisdom  has  thought  fit  to  select  from  a  number  of  true  and 
devoted  patriots  for  so  thorny  a  task  as  awaits  him  here,  possesses 
such  conspicuous  qualities  of  mind  and  character,  with  other  para- 
mount useful  qualities  and  gifts  seldom  to  be  met  with,  as  sufficiently 
make  up  for  what,  perhaps,  he  may  otherwise  want  for  the  moment 
in  experience.  He  is  beyond  question  an  ornament  to  Prussian 
chivalry,  the  pride  of  those  patriotic  spirits  who  work  unceasingly 
with  courage  and  devotion  for  the  splendour  of  the  Crown,  and  for 
the  honour  and  safety  of  the  Fatherland.  I  do  not  even  hesitate  to 
assert  that  such  a  person  is  in  many  respects  too  good  for  this  post, 
in  so  far,  namely,  as  such  approved  qualities  seem  more  especially 
adapted  for  energetic,  independent  action,  for  a  very  high  position 
in  the  Fatherland."  .  .  . 

A  few  days  afterwards  (llth  July)  General  von 
Bochow  gave  an  account  of  the  introduction  of  Herr 
von  Bismarck  to  the  Prince  of  Prussia,  who 

,      ,     .  t,t'          «T  i  Bismarck  and 

had  just  returned  to  his  military  governor-     the^prmce  of 
ship  at  Mayence  from  attending  the  open- 
ing   of    the    first    Grand    Industrial    Exhibition    in 
London  : — 

"  His  Royal  Highness  greeted  Herr  von  Bismarck  very  kindly. 
As  I  was  driving  with  him  to  his  h6tel  he  asked  me — *  And  is  this 
lieutenant  of  the  Landwehr  really  going  to  be  our  Envoy  at  the 
Diet?'  *  Yes,  indeed,'  I  replied,  'and  I  think  the  choice  is  a  good  one. 
Herr  von  Bismarck  is  fresh,  strong,  and  will  certainly  be  equal  to 
all  the  claims  your  Royal  Highness  can  make  on  him.'  The  Prince 
could  say  nothing  to  the  contrary,  and  had  in  general  a  good  opinion 
of  this  distinguished  champion  of  justice  and  real  Prussian  feeling. 
I  think  His  Royal  Highness  wishes  Herr  von  Bismarck  were  only 
several  years  older  and  had  grey  hair,  but  whether  one  can  carry 
out  the  requirements  of  the  Prince  with  these  precise  attributes  I 
will  not  venture  to  decide." 


128  PRINCE   BISMAEtiK. 

Herr  von  Bismarck  may  have  previously  come  into 
formal  contact  with  the  Prince  of  Prussia ;  *  but  this 
may  be  regarded  as  the  first  real  meeting  between  the 
two  men  who  were  destined  to  co-operate  in  doing  such 
great  things  for  their  Fatherland.  With  a  State  servant 
of  whom  so  favourable  a  certificate  of  character  had 
been  given  him  the  Prince  of  Prussia  did  not  hesitate 
to  cultivate  a  closer  acquaintance, t  and  he  soon  came  to 
see  that  the  young  Landwehr  (militia)  lieutenant  was 
a  man  far  above  the  ordinary  level ;  while  the  Prince, 
on  the  other  hand,  was  very  much  more  after  Bismarck's 
own  heart  than  his  royal  brother,  to  whose  failings,  in 
spite  of  the  loyalty  which  had  made  him  shed  a  roseate 
light  on  all  the  acts  of  the  Crown,  so  keen  a  judge  of 
character  as  he  could  not  have  been  blind.  The  King 
was  a  sentimentalist,  and  that  only ;  his  brother  was  a 
soldier,  and  little  more.  Frederick  William  took 
counsel  of  poets,  professors,  and  constitutional  lawyers  ; 
while  the  Prince  of  Prussia  consorted  exclusively  with 
generals,  and  thought  of  nothing  but  army  reform. 
The  elder  brother  devoted  himself  to  the  creation  of 
an  "  evangelical  bishopric  "  at  Jerusalem ;  the  younger 
to  the  formation  of  invincible  battalions.  Herr  von 
Bismarck  and  the  Prince  of  Prussia  felt  mutually  drawn 
to  each  other ;  and  between  them  there  was  now  laid 
the  foundation  of  that  reciprocal  attachment,  that 

*  We  saw,  indeed,  in  our  first  chapter  that  young  Bismarck  was  intro- 
duced to  him  at  a  State  ball. 

t  In  the  year  following  their  meeting  at  Frankfort  the  Prince  of 
Prussia  stood  as  sponsor  to  Bismarck's  second  son,  Count  William,  com- 
monly called  Count  "  Bill." 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  129 

unique  relationship  of  master  and  man  which  achieved 
so  much,  and  which  neither  time  nor  intrigue  could 
ever  shake. 

Ahout  the  time  of  his  meeting  with  the  Prince  of 
Prussia,  who  was  the  man  of  the  future,  Bismarck  also 
made  the  acquaintance  of  the  statesman  who  was  essen- 
tially the  genius  of  the  past.  And  who  could  this  be 
but  Metternich,  whom  the  Germans,  in  their 
hatred  of  the  old  despot,  had  dubbed  Hitter-  mS?Metter- 

nich. 

naclit?  But  though  now  a  waning  lumi- 
nary himself — natheless  of  the  midnight  kind — he  kept 
3,  keen  look-out  for  the  rising  lights  of  the  new  genera- 
tion, and  his  wandering  eye  rested  on  the  young  Prus- 
sian diplomatist  who  had  affected  so  warm  a  veneration 
for  Austria,  and  who  had  first  appeared  upon  the  politi- 
cal stage  as  an  ardent  defender  of  the  Prince's  own 
maxim  that  "  Sovereigns  alone  are  entitled  to  guide  the 
destinies  of  their  peoples,  and  are  responsible  for  their 
actions  to  none  but  God."  So  Prince  Metternich  in- 
vited Bismarck  to  his  Ehenish  chateau,  and  regaled 
his  visitor  no  less  with  his  oracular  wisdom  than  with 
his  delicious  wines.  On  the  Eevolution,  on  the  restora- 
tion of  the  Diet,  on  the  future  of  Germany,  did  the 
old  despot  hold  forth  and  was  enchanted  with  his 
listener. 

"Humboldt,"  said  Bismarck  once,  "took  kindly  to  me  as  I  was 
such  a  respectful  listener,  and  thus  I  got  a  lot  of  things  out  of  him. 
It  was  just  the  same  with  old  Metternich,  when  I  spent  a  couple  of 
days  with  him  once  on  the  Johannisberg.  Thun  said  to  me,  some 
time  after,  '  I  don't  know  what  glamour  you  have  been  casting  over 
the  old  Prince,  who  has  been  looking  down  into  you  as  if  you  were  a 
J 


130  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

golden  goblet,  and  who  told  me  that  he  had  no  insight  at  all  if  you 
and  I  did  not  get  on  well  together.'  *  Well/  said  I,  { I  will  tell  you  ; 
I  listened  quietly  to  all  his  stories,  merely  jogging  the  bell  every  now 
and  then  till  it  rang  again"  (i.e.,  suggesting  fresh  topics  for  his  host 
to  dilate  upon).  "  That  pleases  these  talkative  old  men."  * 

Bismarck  and  Metternich  seated  on  the  Johannis- 

berg!     In   reading   of   this    remarkable    interview  the 

mind  involuntarily  turns  from  the  E-hine  to  the  Jordan, 

when  Elisha  begged  as  a  parting  favour  that  a  double 

portion   of   Elijah's    spirit   might  be  upon 

The  Genius  of        "  J  r  f 

th!  Maa8n'o¥tie  aim>  an(^  was  invested  with  the  relinquished 
mantle  of  his  apotheosized  master's  power 
and  inspiration.  Metternich  had  been  the  chief  repre- 
sentative of  the  political  system  that  was  passing  away, 
and  from  its  ruins  Bismarck  was  to  be  the  creator  of  a 
new  and  better  order  of  things.  Both  had  similarly 
constituted  minds,  both  the  same  political  sympathies ; 

*  Dr.  Busch.  Of  Bismarck's  visit  Princess  Metternich  wrote  in  her 
diary  (August,  1851) : — "  The  Prussian  Envoy,  Herr  von  Bismarck,  who  is 
going  to  take  the  place  of  General  von  Rochow  at  the  Diet,  spent  a  day 
with  us.  He  had  a  long  conversation  with  Clemens  (the  Prince),  and 
seems  to  hold  the  best  political  principles.  Consequently  my  husband  has 
taken  a  great  interest  in  him.  He  struck  me  as  being  an  agreeable  man, 
and  exceedingly  clever  'uberaus  geistreich)."  Metternich^  s  Memoirs. — 
"  Two  evenings  ago,"  wrote  Bismarck  from  Vienna,  on  llth  June,  1852, 
"  I  was  with  Prince  Metternich.  But  his  mental  faculties,  as  well  as  his 
sight  and  hearing,  have  deteriorated  greatly  since  last  summer,  uuless, 
indeed,  he  is  different  in  the  morning  from  what  he  is  at  night.  And  his 
stories  about  the  past  have  not  always  coherence  and  intelligible  con- 
clusion." And  again,  on  7th  July,  1857  :  "  Two  days  ago  I  went  to  see 
old  Metternich  on  the  Johannisberg.  Physically  I  found  him  much  altered 
since  I  saw  him  five  years  ago,  but  mentally  little.  He  spoke  almost  wholly 
of  long  past  times,  the  only  present  topic  on  which  he  launched  out  being 
a  parallel  between  Kossuth  and  Mazzini,  declaring  the  latter  to  be  a  fool, 
&c.,  and  the  former  a  great  and  highly  dangerous  '  Statesman  of  the  Revo- 
lution.'" 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  131 

but,  while  the  despotism  of  Metternich  was  not  even 
tempered  by  epigrams,  Bismarck  was  gifted  with  a 
genius  for  combining  absolutism  with  enlightenment, 
and  for  harmonising  autocracy  with  universal  suffrage. 
The  former  was  mainly  conservative,  the  latter  could 
also  be  constructive.  One  aimed  at  saving  the  forms  of 
the  past  by  suppressing  the  ideas  of  the  present ;  the 
other  would  seek  to  fit  the  expansive  mind  of  the 
present  into  the  scanty  mould  of  the  past.  The  past 
and  the  future  met  in  the  persons  of  these  two  men  — 
the  past  which  had  belonged  to  Austria,  the  future 
which  was  the  heritage  of  Prussia.  They  met  and 
parted  with  mutual  esteem,  but  yet  their  embrace  was 
as  the  hand-shaking  of  two  duellists  before  they  take 
position.  There  is  an  apostolic  succession  in  politics  as 
well  as  in  religion ;  but  when  the  high  priest  of 
despotism,  so  to  speak,  laid  his  inducting  hands  on  the 
rising  hope  of  Crowns,  he  little  dreamt  that  he  was  con- 
secrating the  founder  of  a  heresy  and  a  schism  before 
which  his  own  cherished  system  was  doomed  to  fall.* 


*  It  may  not  be  amiss  to  quote  here  the  opinion  which  Richard  Cobden 
formed  of  Metternich,  as  the  result  of  conversations  he  had  with  him  in 
the  course  of  a -Continental  tour.  "  He  is  probably,"  said  the  shrewd  free- 
trader, "the  last  of  those  State  physicians  who,  looking  only  to  the 
symptoms  of  a  nation,  content  themselves  with  superficial  remedies  from 
day  to  day,  and  never  attempt  to  probe  beneath  the  surface  to  discover  the 
source  of  the  evils  which  afflict  the  social  system.  This  order  of  statesmen 
will  pass  away  with  him,  because  too  much  light  has  been  shed  upon  the 
laboratory  of  Governments  to  allow  them  to  impose  upon  mankind  with 
the  old  formulas." — Morley's  Life  of  Cobden.  No  criticism,  in  one 
respect,  could  better  contrast  Metternich  with  Bismarck,  who,  whatever 
points  he  nmy  have  in  common  with  the  Austrian  autocrat,  has  never  at 
least  been  guilty  of  empiricism. 

j  2 


132  PRINCE  BTSMARCK. 

Until  the  publication  of  the  official  despatches 
(to  which  we  shall  presently  have  to  refer)  written  by 
Bismarck  to  his  Government  from  the  Diet,  the  best 
Bismarck's  knowledge  we  had  of  his  doings  and  say- 
ings during  the  Frankfort  period  of  his  life 
(1851 — 1859)  was  furnished  by  his  letters  to  his  family, 
relatives,  and  others.*  Characterised  by  a  fertile  flow  of 
wit  and  satiric  humour,  of  sentiment  and  fancy,  as  well 
as  by  great  acuteness  of  observation  and  descriptive 
power,  these  charming  letters — dashed  off  though  they 
sometimes  were  while  the  writer  was  waiting  for  an 
audience  or  for  a  train — entitle  him  to  rank  high  among 
the  best  masters  of  that  epistolary  art  which  is  now  said 
to  be  semi-obsolete. f  In  his  official  despatches  we  can 
clearly  trace  the  course  of  his  political  thought  and 
action ;  but  his  private  letters  are  naturally  a  truer 
reflection  of  the  man  himself,  as  well  as  a  more  vivid 
and  varied  record  of  his  journeyings  and  experiences 
during  the  Frankfort  time.  So,  before  proceeding  to 
construct  a  diplomatic  narrative  from  his  official  de- 


*  The  letters  here  quoted  are  translated  from  the  third  edition  of  the 
"  Originalbriefe  Bismarcks  an  seine  Gemahlin,  seine  Schwester  und  Andere 
(1844 — 70)."  These  letters  originally  saw  the  light  in  the  first  considerable 
biography  of  the  Prince  (and  in  many  respects  the  worst  one)  by  Herr 
Hesekiel — a  writer  on  the  Kreuz-Zeitung — a  book  of  which  a  very  in- 
different English  translation  (by  Mr.  Kenneth  Mackenzie)  appeared  in 
1870,  before  the  great  war. 

f  Commenting  on  the  "  Home  Letters  "  written  by  the  late  Earl  of 
Beacoiisfield  in  1830  and  1831,  and  published  in  1885,  a  writer  in  the 
Times  said :  "  Letter- writing  is  said  to  be  a  lost  gift.  The  volume  before 
us  is  proof  that  it  has  not  been  long  lost,  and  that  signs  of  its  existence 
may  turn  up  at  any  time,  and  from  unexpected  quarters." 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  133 

spatches,  let  us  put  together  a  choice  personal  mosaic 
from  his  private  letters. 

What   between   the    duties    of    his    office  and  the 
attractions  of   pleasure,  of  hunting,  visiting,  and  the 
tourist's  life,  Herr  von  Bismarck  was  per-     A  personal 
petually  on  the  wing.     Between  Berlin  and 
Frankfort   alone  in  one  year  he  travelled  very  nearly 
3,000  miles.     Fond  of  society,  he  could  not  always  find 
congenial  companions. 

"  I  should  like  to  have   a  horse,"  he  wrote  soon  after  arriving  in 
Frankfort,  "  but  do  not  care  about  riding  alone,  for  that  bores  me, 

as  does  also  the  society  of  all  the ins  and offs  that  are  here 

with  the  Princess  Olga." 

Sometimes    he    fell    into  a  vein  of   philosophic   or 
poetic  sentiment  :— 

"  The  day  before  yesterday  I  dined  wit^  ...  ,  .  at  Wiesbaden, 
and  with  feelings  of  sadness,  mingled  with  the  wisdom  of  age,  sur- 
veyed the  scene  of  my  youthful  indiscretions.  May  it  please  God 
to  fill  this  vessel,  in  which  at  that  time  the  champagne  of  twenty -one 
bubbled  over,  leaving  only  worthless  dregs  behind,  with  his  own  clear 

and  strong  wine.    Where  and  how  are and  Miss . 

now  living1?  How  many  are  dead  of  those  with  whom  I  used  to 
flirt,  drink,  or  gamble  1  How  many  changes  have  my  views  of  the 
world  undergone  in  fourteen  years,  during  which  I  ever  held  that 
which  was  actually  present  with  me  to  be  the  only  true  form  1 
How  much  now  appears  paltry,  which  then  I  thought  great !  How 
much  I  now  hold  in  honour,  at  which  then  I  scoffed !  How  many  a 
leaf  will  sprout  within  us,  cast  its  shadow,  rustle,  and  then  wither 
away,  within  the  next  fourteen  years,  until  1865,  if,  indeed,  we 
ever  live  to  see  that  year." 

Again,  about  the  same  time  (July,  1851)  :— 

"  On  Saturday  afternoon  I  drove  over  to  Riidesheim  with 
Bochow  and  Lynar.  There  1  took  a  boat,  rowed  down  the  Rhine,  and 


134  PRINCE   B18MAROK. 

swam  in  the  moonlight,  with  only  my  nose  and  eyes  above  the  tepid 
water,  as  far  as  the  Mausethurm,  near  Bingen  "  (a  very  long  swim  by 
the  way  !),  "  where  the  wicked  bishop  came  to  an  end.  It  is  a  delight- 
fully dreamy  sensation  to  lie  on  the*  water  in  the  still  warm  night, 
lazily  carried  down  by  the  stream,  to  gaze  on  the  heavens  glimmer- 
ing with  moon  and  stars,  and  to  catch  sight  of  wood-covered  moun- 
tain tops,  and  castle  battlements  in  the  moonlight  on  each  side,  with 
nothing  to  listen  to  save  the  gentle  plashing  of  one's  own  movement. 
I  should  like  to  have  a  swim  like  this  every  evening.  Afterwards 
I  drank  some  excellent  wine,  and  sat  with  Lynar  smoking  on  the 
balcony  until  late,  the  Rhine  flowing  beneath  us.  My  small  testa- 
ment and  the  starry  heavens  brought  us  to  discuss  religion,  and  I 
argued  for  a  long  time  against  his  theory  of  morals  based  on  Rous- 
seau, but  my  argument  had  no  other  effect  than  to  reduce  him  to 
silence." 

At  one  time  we  find  him  complaining  that,  instead 
of  luxuriating  in  Nature  and  Beethoven,  he 

'*  must   go  and  call   on  '. and  read  endless  figures  about 

German  steam  corvettes  and  gun-boats,  which  lie  rotting  at  Bremer- 
haven,  and  only  eat  up  money ; "  while  again  he  tells  how,  after 
working  from  eight  to  five,  "  I  took  a  long  and  solitary  walk  among 
the  mountains  late  in  the  wonderful  moonlight  night."  From  "  a 
grand'  full-dress  dinner  in  honour  of  the  Emperor  of  Austria,  at 
which  20,000  thalers'  worth  of  gold-embroidered  uniform  sat  down 
to  table,"  he  starts  off"  on  a  trip  to  Heidelberg,  whence  "  I  walked 
to  Wolfsbrunn,  and  drank  some  beer  at  the  very  table  at  which  I 
once  sat  with  you." 

Moral  temptations,  no  less  than  material  troubles, 
sometimes  assailed  him  on  his  travels. 

"AtGiessen"  (he  wrote  to  his  wife  from  Halle,  Jan.,  1852) 
"I  was  put  into  a  bitterly  cold  room,  with  three  windows  that 
would  not  shut,  a  bed  too  short  and  too  narrow,  dirty,  bugs  ;  dis- 
graceful coffee,  worse  than  I  have  ever  tasted  before.  At  Gunters- 
hausen  some  ladies  got  into  the  first-class  smoking  carriage — a  fine 


DIPLOMATIC    GAREEE.  135 

lady  of  quality with  two  maids  and  sables  ;  she  spoke 

alternately,  German,  with  a  Russian  and  English  accent,  very  good 
French,  and  some  English  ;  but,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  I  think  she 
came  from  Reezen  Alley,  Berlin,  and  that  her  companion  was  really 

her  mother,  or  an  old  friend  in  the  same  line  of  business 

I  went  into  a  second-class  carriage  to  smoke,  and  there  fell  into 
the  clutches  of  a  colleague  of  mine  from  Berlin,  a  member  of  the 
Chamber  and  Privy--Councillor,  who  had  been  to  Homburg  for  a 
fortnight  to  drink  the  waters.  He  badgered  me  so  with  questions 
before  a  lot  of  Jews  from  a  fair,  that  I  was  glad  enough  to  escape 
from  him,  and  take  refuge  again  with  the  Princess  of  Reezen 
Alley." 

A  few  months  afterwards  lie  goes  to  Vienna  (on 
official  business),  and  longs  for  the  society  of  his  wife. 

"  I  don't  care  for  this  place  at  all,  although  I  enjoyed  it  so  much 
with  you  in  '47  "  (when  he  was  on  his  wedding  trip) ;  "  for  not  only 
do  I  miss  your  company,  but  I  feel  myself  superfluous,  and  that 
is  a  more  serious  matter  than  I  can  make  intelligible  to  your  un- 

political  mind I  have  just  come  back  from  the  opera  with 

old  Westmoreland,  where  a  very  good  Italian  company  gave  "  Don 
Giovanni."  ....  Yesterday  I  was  at  SchOnbrunn,  and  the 
tall  hedges,  with  the  white  statues  set  amid  the  green  bushes, 
reminded  me  of  our  exciting  moonlight  expedition.  I  saw  the 
private  little  garden,  where  we  first  wandered ;  it  is  especially  for- 
bidden ground,  and  the  sentry,  who  still  stands  there,  would  not 
allow  us  even  to  look  in." 

"  You  see  that  I,  too,  am  a  dreamer  over  Nature's  handiwork," 
he  next  wrote  to  his  wife  from  Ofen,  "where  the  Emperor  (of 
Austria)  has  graciously  assigned  me  quarters  in  his  own  castle, 
and  I  am  sitting  here  in  a  large  vaulted  hall  by  the  open  window, 
through  which  I  can  hear  the  evening  bells  of  Pesth  pealing," — 
sitting,  penning  a  vivid  description  of  the  glorious  landscape  "dis- 
solving into  the  purple  evening  haze;"  and  longing  "  as  if  for  one's 
sweetheart "  for  the  appearance  of  his  servant,  "  for  I  require  a  clean 
shirt." 

"  There  was  a  great  crowd  of  travellers,  but  only  think,  not  a 
single  Englishman.  I  suppose  the  English  have  not  yet  discovered 


136  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Hungary.  Otherwise  there  were  strange  vagabonds  enough,  from 
every  nation,  either  east  or  west,  some  dirty,  some  clean.  Where," 
he  asks,  in  bidding  his  wife  an  epistolary  good-night,  "  did  I  get 
the  song  from  which  has  been  running  ti  my  head  the  whole  day — 

'  Over  the  blue  mountains,  over  the  white  sea  foam, 
Come  thon  beloved  one,  come  to  thy  lonely  home.' 

I  can't  think  who  it  was  that  sang  it  to  me  in  '  old  lang  syne.' n 

A  gay  time  he  had  at  the  Court  of  the  young 
Emperor  Francis  Joseph  (in  June,  1852),  of  whom  he 
"  formed  a  very  favourable  impression,"  and  graphic 
was  his  record  of  these  festive,  though  official,  days.* 

"  Once  again  the  lights  are  shining  up  here  from   Pesth ;  the 
lightning  flashes  in  the  horizon  towards  the  Theiss,  but  overhead  it  is 

starlight After  dinner  the  whole  Court  made  an  excursion 

to  the  mountains,  to  '  the  beautiful  shepherdess,'  who  has  long  been 
dead,  as  King  Corvinus  was  in  love  with  her  some  centuries  back. 
The  view  over  wooded  hills  to  Of  en  is  like  that  on  the  banks  of 
the  ISTeckar.  A  country  fair  had  gathered  thousands  together  ;  they 
crowded  round  the  Emperor,  who  mixed  freely  in  the  throng,  with 
wild  shouts  of  eljen  (evviva) ;  they  danced  the  csardas,  waltzed, 
sang,  played,  climbed  trees,  and  mobbed  the  Court.  A  supper  table 
for  about  twenty  persons  was  laid  on  a  grassy  slope,  with  the  seats 
only  placed  on  one  side,  the  other  being  left  open  for  the  view  over 
wood,  castle,  town  and  country ;  overhead  were  lofty  beech-trees, 
with  Hungarians  climbing  in  their  branches.  Immediately  behind 
us  was  a  closely-packed  and  pressing  crowd,  while  at  some  distance 
we  heard  alternately  the  music  of  brass  instruments  and  songs,  wild 
gipsy  melodies.  The  moon  and  the  evening  glow  gave  us  light, 
while  here  and  there  torches  flashed  in  the  wood ;  the  whole  scene 
might  serve  unchanged  as  a  grand  tableau  in  a  romantic  opera.  .... 
May  angels  guard  you  !  A  grenadier  in  a  bearskin  does  this  for 
me,  six  inches  of  whose  bayonet  I  can  see  just  over  the  window-sill, 
at  a  couple  of  arms'  length  from  me,  with  a  ray  of  light  flashing  on 
it.  He  is  standing  on  the  terrace  over  the  Danube,  and  is  doubtless 
thinking  of  his  Nanny." 

*  He  tad  been  sent  on  a  special  mission  to  Vienna,  of  which  more  anon. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  137 

His  love  of  adventure  prompted  him  to  make  a 
flying  visit  into  a.  remote  and  robber- infested  part  of 
Hungary  (Szolnok),  whence  in  the  far  distance  he 
"could  descry  the  faint  blue  outlines  of  the  Carpathians." 
Under  a  broiling  sun,  which  made  his  face  "  as  red  as  a 
crayfish,"  he  did  ninety  miles  in  twelve  hours  (including 
time  required  for  changing  teams),  his  means  of  con- 
veyance being  "  a  low  peasant  cart,  filled  with  sacks  of 
straw/7  drawn  by  three  horses  from  the  steppes ;  and 
thus,  over  an  interminable  turfy  plain,  level  as  the  table, 
lie 

....  "flew  at  full  speed,  an  amiable,  sun-burnt  officer  sitting 
by  my  side,  both  of  us  having  loaded  pistols  lying  in  the  hay  at 
our  feet,  and  a  company  of  lancers  with  cocked  carbines  riding 
behind  us." 

Bismarck  wanted  very  much  to  have  a  brush  with 
the  mounted  robbers,  "  as  one  has  not  the  chance  of 
this  sort  of  thing  in  our  dull  part  of  the  world  ;  "  but 
though  at  that  time  they  had  been  playing  the  Dick 
Turpin  extensively  in  the  neighbourhood,  they  were 
careful  to  keep  clear  of  the  six-feet-two  traveller  from 
Pomerania,  so  that  he  lived  to  return  to  JPesth,  where — 

"  I  have  had  a  swim  in  the  Danube,  seen  the  beautiful  suspension 
bridge  from  beneath,  made  some  calls,  listened  to  some  excellent  gipsy 
music  on  the  promenade,  and  shall  soon  go  to  bed." 

In  the  summer  of  1853  we  find  him  enjoying  the 
sea-bathing  at  Ostend,  where  "  only  the  consciousness 
of  a  faultless  figure  can  give  us  (men)  the  courage 
to  appear  in  this  costume  before  the  whole  world 


138  PRINCE   BISMAEGK. 

of  womenl"  And  then  from  Brussels  he  writes,  full  of 
enthusiasm  for  the  sea : — 

"  I  was  very  sorry  to  leave  Ostend,  and  to-day  feel  a  hankering 
after  it.  I  met  an  old  love  of  mine  there.  She  was  quite  un- 
changed, and  as  charming  as  on  the  day  when  first  I  made  her 
acquaintance.  Just  at  this  moment  I  feel  the  separation  painful,  and 
I  look  forward  with  impatience  to  meeting  her  again  at  Nordeney, 
when  I  can  once  more  throw  myself  on  her  heaving  breast.  I  can't 
understand  why  we  don't  always  live  by  the  sea,  or  why  I  allowed 
myself  to  be  persuaded  to  spend  two  days  in  this  rectilinear  heap  of 
stones,  and  to  look  at  bull-fights,  Waterloo,  and  pompous  processions." 

To  the  sea  accordingly  he  returned,  after  a  run  to 
Amsterdam,  which  he  contrasts  with  Venice,  and  a 
ramble  through  Holland  with  its  quaint  "  towns,  look- 
ing as  if  they  had  been  cut  out  of  old  picture-books  ;  " 
and 

"  when  I  listen  to  the  chiming  of  the  bells,  and,  with  a  long 
clay  pipe  in  my  mouth,  look  over  the  canals  through  the  forest  of 
masts  on  to  the  gables  and  chimneys  in  the  background,  which  appear 
more  quaint  and  fantastic  than  ever  in  the  twilight,  I  think  of  all 
the  Dutch  fairy  stories,  from  Dolph  Heylinger  and  Rip  Van  Winkle 
down  to  the  Flying  Dutchman." 

Having  already  visited  England,  France,  Belgium, 
Italy,  Switzerland,  Hungary,  and  Holland,  he  next  pro- 
ceeded to  the  touristic  annexation  of  the  Scandinavian 
States;*  and  in  the  autumn  of  1857  we  find  him  at 

*  In  a  despatch  to  Herr  v.  Manteuffel  (his  official  chief  at  Berlin)  from 
Frankfort,  dated  3rd  July,  1857,  Bismarck  said : — "  Prince  Frederick  of 
Hesse  has  invited  me  to  have  a  fortnight's  shooting  with  him  in  the  month 
of  August ;  and  as  we  shall  have  vacation  then  I  should  very  much  like  to 
go.  He  told  me  that,  apart  from  the  Prince  of  Denmark,  there  would  be 
present  some  political  notabilities  of  the  North,  including  Baron  von 
Blixen  and  others,  so  that  I  should  have  ample  opportunity  of  gathering 
information  (on  the  subject  of  the  Danish  Question,  &c.)  " 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  139 

Copenhagen  taking  the  measure  of  the  Danes.  "  I  have 
just  had  a  dip  in  the  sea,"  he  wrote  to  his  wife  on 
arriving  there,  "  have  lunched  on  lobster,  and  am  to  he 
at  Court  at  half-past  one."  From  Denmark,  with  a 
Court  party,  he  passed  over  to  Sweden,  and  got  quartered 

"in  a  white  castle  perched  up  on  a  peninsula,  and  surrounded 
by  a  huge  lake Broad  Swedish  is  spoken  under  my  win- 
dow, and  the  sound  of  a  grater  like  a  saw  conies  up  from  the 
kitchen."  "  Imagine  all  this,"  he  wrote  after  a  graphic  account  of 
the  scenery,  "  wonderfully  shaped  lakes,  surrounded  by  heathland 
and  forest  of  birch,  juniper,  fir,  beech,  and  oak,  and  you  have 
Smaland,  where  I  am  staying  at  present.  It  is  indeed  the  land 
of  my  dreams,  unreachable  by  despatches,  colleagues,  and  bores, 
unfortunately,  also  by  you.  I  should  very  much  like  to  have  a  little 
shooting  box  on  the  shore  of  one  of  these  calm  lakes,  and  to  people 
it  for  some  months  with  all  the  dear  ones,  whom  I  now  imagine 
are  gathered  together  in  Reinfeld." 

Splendid  but  fatiguing  sport  was  enjoyed  in  these 
primeval  hunting-grounds,  which  teemed  with  the  flying 
and  the  running  game,  with  the  wolf  and  the  boar,  the 
roebuck  and  the  red-deer,  the  blackcock,  the  wild  duck, 
the  partridge,  and  the  capercailzie. 

"  We  have  been  on  the  move  from  four  in  the  morning  until  eight 
in  the  evening,  shot  four  black-cocks,  slept  a  couple  of  hours  on  cut 
heather,  and  are  now  off  to  bed,  dead  tired.0 

With  the  absorption  of  the  true  artist  who  fixes  his 
attention  more  on  his  object  than  on  his  easel,  Bismarck 
here  had  a  severe  fall : — 

"  The  day  before  yesterday  I  looked  more  at  my  dog  than  at  the 
ground  I  was  going  over,  and  in  consequence  fell  and  sprained  my 
left  leg."  Being  laid  up  by  this  accident,  "  I  amused  myself  the 


140  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

whole  day  by  learning  Danish  of  the  doctor  who  makes  my  poultices. 

and  now  cripples  of  twenty  years'  standing  have  heard  of 

this  learned  man  and  are  coming  here  in  the  hope  of  getting  cured 
by  him." 

From  Sweden  the  unwearied  Nimrod  crossed  the 
Baltic  to  Russia,  and  had  some  more  sport  of  a  splendid 
kind  in  Courland. 

"  I  have  had  a  very  good  time,"  he  wrote,  "  the  Tierra  del  Fuegans 
have  displayed  quite  a  touching  amiability  towards  me,  such  as 
it  would  be  very  difficult  for  a  stranger  to  match  in  another  country. 
Besides  several  roebucks  and  fallow  deer,  I  have  brought  down  five 
elks,  one  of  them  a  huge  stag,  who  measured  straight,  not  with  a 
ribbon,  6  ft.  8  inches  up  to  his  withers,  and  on  the  top  of  that 
carried  a  colossal  head.  He  fell  over  like  a  hare,  but  as  he  was  not 
quite  dead,  I  took  pity  on  him  and  sent  another  shot  into  him.  I 
had  scarcely  done  this,  when  another,  still  larger  -than  the  first, 
came  so  close  to  me,  that  Engel,  who  was  loading  for  me,  had  to 
take  refuge  behind  a  tree  to  avoid  being  run  over,  while  I  was 
obliged  to  content  myself  by  giving  him  a  friendly  glance,  as  I  had 
no  more  shot.  I  cannot  forget  this  trouble,  and  so  must  pour  out 
a  complaint  to  you.  Besides  this,  I  just  hit  another,  which  they 
will  probably  find,  and  clean  missed  a  third.  So  I  might  have  shot 
three  more.  The  evening  of  the  day  before  yesterday,  we  started 
from  Dondangen,  and  drove  200  miles  without  a  road  to  Memelj 
through  wood  and  waste,  over  stick  and  stone,  in  twenty-nine  hours 
the  carriage  was  open,  and  we  had  to  hold  on  to  save  ourselves  from" 
falling  out." 

Sometimes,  to  his  great  regret,  he  had  to  forego  the 
pleasure  of  shooting  for  the  pain  of  writing,  as  for 
example : 

"  I  have  so  much  to  write  about  Holstein,  Mayence,  the  bridge  at 
Kehl,  and  all  kinds  of  tales  in  Berlin,  that  to-day  and  to-morrow  I 
have  to  refuse  excellent  invitations  to  shoot  red  deer." 

And  sometimes  the  spirit  of  destructiveness  within 
him  was  too  strong  to  be  resisted : 


P 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  141 

"  I  shoot  a  good  deal.  Such  preserves  !  where  a  single  gun 
kills  from  six  to  fifteen  hares  and  a  few  pheasants,  more  rarely  a 
roebuck  or  a  fox,  and  whiles  a  bit  of  red  deer  flies  in  the  far 
distance.  I  have  managed  to  allow  time  for  this  by  means 
of  being  very  much  lazier  than  I  was  last  year,  seeing  that  my 
industry  has  no  results  in  Berlin." 

Or  again, 

"I  wanted  to  go  fishing  to-day  (having  sunk  so  low)  with  the 
Englishman"  (Sir  Alexander  Malet,),  "but  it  rained  too  hard,  so 
instead  of  that  I  am  the  victim  of  visitors." 

When  no  sport  was  to  be  had  he  took  to  climbing 
the  mountains  of  the  Taunus  and  the  Odenwald,  in 
order  to  counteract  the  effects  of  the  high  living  at 
Frankfort,  which  frequently  made  him  ill. 

"  At  home,"  he  wrote  to  Herr  von  Manteuffel  (1856),  "we  are 
only  so-so.  My  wife  has  been  ill  for  weeks  with  a  throat  complaint ; 
and  I  am  beginning  to  feel  the  effects  of  my  sedentary  mode  of  life, 
and  the  Frankfort  dinners,  which  open  out  to  me  the  prospect  of 
a  visit  to  Karlsbad  "  (and  its  healing  waters).  "  Besides  which,  the 
fact  that  I  have  got  a  grasping  and  quarrelsome  tenant  at  Schon- 
hausen,  with  no  one  there  to  look  properly  after  my  interests, 
materially  contributes  to  the  development  of  liver  complaint." 

But  a  propos  of  liver  complaint  and  of  the  high 
living  which  induced  it,  let  us  complete  this  personal 
mosaic  with  the  following  story  : 

"Rothschild,"  said  Bismarck  once,*  "used  to  give  dinners 
sometimes  which  were  quite  worthy  of  his  great  riches.  I  remember 
once  when  the  present  King  was  in  Frankfort  I  invited  him  to 
dinner.  Later  in  the  same  day  Rothschild  also  asked  his  Majesty  to 
dine  with  him,  to  which  the  King  replied  that  he  must  settle  matters 
with  me,  seeing  that  for  his  own  part  he  did  not  care  with  which  of 

*  During  the  Franco- German  War,  as  recorded  by  Dr.  Busch. 


142  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

us  he  dined.  The  Baron  now  came  and  proposed  that  I  should  cede 
his  Royal  Highness  to  him,  and  that  I  should  join  them  at  dinner. 
I  refused  this,  but  he  had  the  naivete  to  suggest  that  his  dinner 
might  be  sent  to  my  house,  although  he  could  not  eat  with  us,  as  he 
only  partook  of  strictly  Jewish  fare.  This  proposal  also  I  begged 
leave  to  decline — naturally,  though  his  dinner  doubtless  was  better 
than  mine." 

Bismarck,   as  we  saw,  had  arrived  at  Frankfort  in 

May,  1851,  but  it  was  August  (27)  of  the  same  year 

before  he  was  formally  introduced  to  the 

Count  Thun.  * 

Diet  itself  as  representative  of  Prussia ;  and 
this  is  the  account  he  gave,  on  the  same  day,  of  the 
bearing  and  manners  of  its  Austrian  President : — 

"  Count  Thun  displays  in  his  conduct  at  meetings  of  the  Diet  the 
same  non-observance  of  forms  which  generally  characterises  him. 
He  presided  in  a  short  jacket  of  summer  material,  buttoned  up  to 
conceal  the  absence  of  a  waistcoat ;  he  had  on  an  insignificant  pre- 
tence at  a  necktie,  and  wore  nankeen  trousers  ;  while  his  manner  of 
delivery  was  that  of  conversation.  In  ordinary  intercourse  he  has 
been  very  open  and  obliging  to  me  since  my  appointment.  That  he 
over-estimates  his  position  as  President  is  an  incorrect  way  of  looking 
upon  it  on  his  part." 

And  again,  a  few  days  later  : — 

"  The  proceedings  of  the  committee  are  less  important  in  them- 
selves (than  the  sittings  of  the  Diet),  and  are  a  trial  of  patience, 
owing  to  the  conduct  of  the  Austrian  member.  Count  Thun  presides 
in  most  cases,  and  as  he  does  not  study  beforehand  the  papers  that 
are  Jbanded  in,  he  only  becomes  acquainted  with  their  contents  by 
literally  reading  them  to  the  committee  from  beginning  to  end ;  an 
operation*  which,  in  the  case  of  some  documents — as  for  instance  a 
report  on  naval  finance  from  thirty  to  forty  pages  long,  full  of  figures 
and  notes — lasts  several  hours,  during  which  the  Count  recites  with 
an  enviable  pair  of  lungs,  while  Herr  von  Schele  goes  to  sleep,  Herr 
von  Nostitz  reads  a  book  under  the  table,  and  General  Xylander, 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  143 

who  sits  next  to  me,  draws  new  and  fantastic  designs  for  gun- 
carriages  on  his  blotting-paper.  ...  I  have  represented  to 
Count  Thun  the  impossibility  of  this  mode  of  carrying  on  business  ; 
but  he  only  pretended  in  a  real  Austrian  manner  that  he  could  not 
conceive  what  I  was  aiming  at,  and  how  it  could  be  managed  differ- 
ently. ...  I  must  repeat  the  complaint  I  made  in  my  last 
letter,  that  Count  Thun  endeavours  to  extend  in  an  unjustifiable 
manner  his  authority  as  President.  .  .  .  Remonstrance  only 
makes  him  rude.  .  .  .  He  was  so  violent  yesterday  in  the 
committee  towards  Herr  von  Schele,  that  the  latter  charged  me  to 
challenge  him  ;  but  I  preferred  to  act  the  mediator  and  to  settle  the 
matter  peacefully,  although  a  different  issue  would  doubtless  have 
been  more  piquant.  In  return  for  my  first  visit  in  May  he  only  sent 
his  card,  and  since  then  he  has  never  been  to  my  house,  and  has  never 
returned  my  numerous  visits,  not  even  the  official  ones.  When  I  go 
to  him  on  business,  he  lets  me  wait  in  the  ante-chamber  only  to  tell 
me  that  he  has  just  had  a  very  interesting  visit  from  an  English 
newspaper-correspondent.  Even  to  Herr  von  Rochow  he  did  not 
behave  differently ;  Wentzel  tells  me  that  he  had  once  to  sit  in  the 
ante-room  twenty  minutes  with  Rochow.  He  never  rises  from  his 
seat  to  receive  anybody,  and  never  offers  one  a  chair,  whilst  he 
himself  remains  sitting — smoking  hard.  I  only  tell  your  Excellency 
Jhis  to  amuse  you  ;  I  regard  this  rare  specimen  of  a  diplomatist  with 
the  calm  of  a  naturalist,  and  flatter  myself  that  I  have  contributed 
something  towards  his  social  polish,  at  least  in  his  behaviour  towards 
myself,  without  our  mutual  relations  having  lost  their  amicable  and 
confidential  character." 

So  this,  then,  was  the  means  adopted  by  the  Austrian 
President   of  the  Diet  to  impress   the    new   Prussian 
Envoy  with  the  correctness  of  the  theory  with  which  he 
had  come  to  Frankfort — the  theory  that  his 
Sovereign  was  entitled  to  as  much  authority     cure  for  inci- 

J        vility. 

in  Grermany  as  the  youthful  Francis  Joseph, 

and   that  there    was  to  be  perfect  parity  between  the 

two    leading    German    Powers.       A     pretty    way    of 


144  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

showing  that  lie  also  shared  this  theory  was  it  for 
Count  Thun  to  preside  at  the  sittings  of  the  Diet  in 
something  like  dressing-room  attire,  to  keep  Herr  von 
Bismarck  waiting  outside  while  he  was  gossiping  with 
a  newspaper-correspondent,  never  to  rise  from  his  seat 
or  offer  his  visitor  a  chair,  and  to  puff  cigar  smoke  in 
his  face  without  inviting  him  to  share  this  amusement. 
But  the  next  time  that  occurred,  Bismarck  pulled  out  a 
cigar  himself  and  asked  his  dumbfounded  colleague  for 
a  light,  which  caused  the  latter  to  reflect  with  whom  he 
had  to  deal  and  to  change  his  manners,  so  that  before 
long  Bismarck  was  able  to  report : — * 

"  I  had  a  very  open  and  frank  personal  explanation  with  Count 
Thun  about  a  fortnight  ago  concerning  the  manner  in  which  he 
throws  obstacles  in  the  way  of  my  relations  to  him,  by  showing  a 
want  of  regard  and  politeness  towards  me,  and  by  refusing  to 
apply  to  thft  machinery  of  our  intercourse  the  oil  of  social  forms. 
He  bore  with  my  outspokenness  beyond  my  expectation,  promising 
to  remove  the  cause  of  my  complaints,  and  since  then  everything  has 
been  better  between  us,  and,  as  far  at  least  as  I  am  concerned,  he  now 
shows  much  more  consideration." 

*  Once  during  the  Franco- German  war,  Dr.  Busch  asked  the  Chancellor 
about  "  the  famous  cigar  story."  "  Which  do  you  mean  ? "  said  the 
Prince.  "When,  your  Excellency,  Rechberg  kept  on  smoking  a  cigar  in 
your  presence,  and  you  took  one  yourself."  "  You  mean  Thun.  Well, 
that  was  simple  enough.  I  went  to  him,  and  he  was  working  and  smoking 
at  the  same  time.  He  begged  me  to  wait  a  moment.  I  did  wait ;  hut 
when  it  seemed  too  long,  and  he  offered  me  no  cigar,  I  took  out  one,  and 
asked  him  for  a  light,  which  he  gave  me  with  a  rather  astonished  look. 
But  there  is  another  story  of  the  same  kind.  At  the  sittings  of  the 
military  committee  when  Rochow  was  the  Prussian  representative  at  the 
Diet,  Austria  alone  smoked.  Rochow,  who  was  a  furious  smoker,  would 
certainly  have  liked  to  do  it,  but  did  not  venture.  When  I  succeeded  him, 
I  too  hankered  after  a  cigar ;  and  as  I  did  not  see  why  I  should  not  have 
it,  I  asked  the  Power  in  the  President's  chair  to  give  me  a  light,  which 
seemed  to  cause  him  and  the  other  gentlemen  both  astonishment  and 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  145 

Such,  then,  was  the  beginning  of  that  conflict 
between  Austria  and  Prussia  which  only  ended  at 
Sadowa.  At  first  more  personal  than  Austriaand 
otherwise,  it  was  not  long  in  growing 
purely  political.  The  pretensions  of  Austria  were  well 
reflected  in  the  contemptuous  and  cavalierly  manner  in 
which  her  representatives  affected  to  treat  the  Prussian 
Envoy,  and  his  feeling  of  resentment  quickened  his 
suspicion  of  the  political  meaning  behind  it  all.  In- 
deed, he  had  not  been  long  in  Frankfort  before  he  began 
to  doubt  that  he  would  ever  succeed  in  realising  the 
object  of  his  mission,  which  was  to  invest  Prussia  with 
as  much  influence  over  the  affairs  of  Germany  as  was 
exercised  by  her  rival.  Prussia  had  only  assented  to 
the  resuscitation  of  the  Diet  on  the  understanding  that 
its  organisation  would  be  re-modelled  in  such  a  way  as 
to  place  her  on  a  footing  of  equality,  at  least,  with 
Austria ;  but  Austria  was  privately  determined  to 


displeasure.  It  was  evidently  an  event  for  them.  That  time  only  Austria 
and  Prussia  smoked.  But  the  other  gentlemen  obviously  thought  the 
matter  so  serious  that  they  reported  it  to  their  respective  Courts.  The 
question  required  mature  deliberation,  and  for  half  a  year  only  the  two  Great 
Powers  smoked.  Then  Schrenck,  the  Bavarian  Envoy,  asserted  the  dignity 
of  his  position  by  smoking.  Nostitz,  the  Saxon,  had  certainly  also  a  great 
wish  to  do  so,  but  had  not  received  authority  from  his  Minister.  When, 
however,  he  saw  Bothmer,  the  Hanoverian,  indulging  himself  at  the  next 
sitting,  he  must — for  he  was  intensely  Austrian,  having  sons  in  the  army — 
have  come  to  some  understanding  with  Rechberg,  for  he  also  took  out  a 
cigar  from  his  case  and  puffed  away.  Only  Wiirtemberg  and  Darmstadt 
were  left,  and  they  did  not  smoke  themselves.  But  the  honour  and 
dignity  of  their  States  imperatively  required  it,  so  that  the  next  time  we 
met  Wiirtemberg  produced  a  cigar — I  see  it  now,  it  was  a  long,  thin,  light 
yellow  thing — and  smoked  at  least  half  of  it  as  a  burnt-offering  to  the 
Fatherland."—"  Bismarck  in  the  Franco-German  War." 


146  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

achieve  a  predominance  in  the  councils  of  the  Father- 
land, and  Bismarck  was  not  slow  in  finding  that 
out. 

Eeference  has  frequently  heen  made  to  his  "  youthful 
illusions  "  with  respect  to  Austria,  but  we  have  seen 
nothing  to  convince  us  that  his  self-deception  on  this 
score  was  very  gross.*  He  had  defended  Olmiitz,  it  is 
true,  but  only  from  motives  of  immediate  policy,  and 
with  a  secret  resolution  to  "  eat  the  dish  of  his  revenge 
cold  instead  of  hot."  Certainly,  at  least,  his  "  illusions  " 
never  went  so  far  as  to  content  him  with  the  prospect 
of  his  country  remaining  in  a  state  of  permanent  vassal- 
age to  Austria.  There  is  not  a  syllable  in  all  his 
Frankfort  despatches  which  were  subsequently  given  to 
the  world  to  show  that.  These  remarkable  despatches 
form  an  authentic  history  of  most  of  the  questions 
which  then  vexed  the  German  mind;  they  mark 
the  progress  of  the  change  by  which  Bismarck,  from 
being  the  submissive  party  to  a  marriage  of  convenience 
— from  which,  however,  he  did  his  best  to  draw  domestic 
happiness — became  the  emphatic  advocate  of  divorce; 
and  they  show  the  clear  beginning  of  that  masterly 
policy  which  has  rapidly  converted  Germany  from  a 
geographical  expression,  a  bundle  of  conflicting  States 
tied  together  with  red  tape,  into  one  of  the  stablest, 

*  "  On  coming  here  four  years  ago,"  wrote  Bismarck  in  1855,  "  I  cer- 
tainly was  no  opponent  of  Austria  in  principle,  but  I  should  have  had  to 
disavow  every  drop  of  my  Prussian  blood  had  I  wished  to  preserve  any- 
thing even  like  a  moderate  predilection  for  Austria  as  understood  by 'her 
present  rulers.** 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  147 

most  formidable,  and  most  respected  empires  of  modern 
times.  * 

*  Consisting  of  four  octavo  volumes,  these  Bismarck  despatches  were 
published — three  of  them  in  1882,  and  the  fourth  in  1884 — under  the 
title :  "  Preussen  im  Bundestag,  1851  bis  1859  :  Documente  der  K. 
Preuss.  Bundestag 's-Gesandschaft,  herausgegeben  von  Dr.  Ritter  von 
Poschinger,  veranlasst  und  unterstutzt  durch  die  K.  Archiv-Verwaltung  ; 
Leipzig,  Verlag  von  8.  Hirzel" — i.e.,  "  Prussia  in  the  Federal  Diet,  from 
1851  to  1859:  being  Documents  of  the  Royal  Prussian  Missipn  at  the 
Diet,  edited  by  Dr.  Chevalier  von  Poschinger,  suggested  and  supported 
by  the  Administrators  of  the  Royal  Archives ;  published  at  Leipzig  by  S. 
Hirzel."  The  editor,  a  young  Bavarian  gentleman  engaged  in  the  Imperial 
Ministry  of  the  Interior,  has  done  his  work  with  exemplary  skill ;  but  with 
the  national  archives  at  his  command  it  would,  indeed,  have  been  strange 
if  he  had  not  achieved  pre-eminence  in  a  field  of  labour  wherein  the 
Germans,  more  than  any  other  nation,  are  fitted  by  nature  to  excel.  As  to 
the  exact  motives  which  prompted  the  publication  of  these  despatches 
during  the  life  of  their  author,  the  Opposition  prints  would  at  first  have  it 
that  it  was  deemed  expedient  to  counteract  the  evil  effects  produced  on 
public  opinion  by  the  Chancellor's  defeats  in  the  field  of  domestic  policy 
by  directing  attention  to  the  proofs  of  his  brilliant  genius  as  a  diplomatist. 
But  there  is  no  reason  to  doubt  that  the  truth  about  their  divulgence  was 
told  by  Professor  von  Sybel,  Keeper  of  the  Prussian  State  Archives,  who 
thus  wrote  in  the  "  Historische  Zeitschrift  "  (No.  1,  of  50  vol.) :  "  The 
much-discussed  question  of  how  these  despatches  came  to  be  published 
may  once  for  all  be  answered.  While  collecting  material  for  his  book  on 
the  banking  institutions  of  Prussia,  Herr  von  Poschinger  had  received 
permission  to  look  into  the  documents  of  the  Diet  deposited  in  the  secret 
State  Archives  at  Berlin.  Here  he  found  the  reports  of  Herr  von  Bis- 
marck, recognised  their  great  historical  importance,  and  came  to  ask  me> 
as  Keeper,  of  the  Archives,  whether  he  might  use  those  despatches  in  the 
compilation  of  a  book  on  '  Bismarck  in  Frankfort.'  Thereupon  I  suggested 
to  him  that,  instead  of  doing  that,  he  should  edit  the  documents  them- 
selves, and,  on  his  agreeing  to  this,  I  begged  the  Prince- Chancellor's 
approval  of  this  plan,  which  was  at  once  accorded."  These  Bismarck 
despatches  form  one  of  a  numerous  and  valuable  series  of  historical  works 
compiled  from  the  Prussian  State  Archives,  and  published  under  the  super, 
inteudence  of  their  keeper,  the  eminent  scholar,  Professor  von  Sybel.  At 
first  there  was  no  slight  fear  and  trembling  at  Vienna  when  it  became 
known  there  that  another  Dr.  Busch,  of  a  diplomatic  kind,  was  in  the 
field ;  but  the  unruffled  composure  with  which  his  revelations  were  received 
even  there  was  a  proof  how  quickly  in  these  necessitous  days  the  memory 
of  defeat  gives  place  to  feelings  of  political  expediency,  and  how  im- 
placable enmity  may  be  soon  succeeded  by  brotherly  alliance. 

K    2 


148  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Diplomatic  literature  is  not,  as  a  rule,  very  interest- 
ing to  the  general   reader ;  but  in  most  of  these  Bis- 
marck despatches  there  is  an  inherent  charm 

FnmkfOTt          which  invites  perusal,  even  when  the  sub- 
despatches. 

ject-matter  itself,  as  frequently  happens,  is 
detestably  dry.  For  they  are  full  .of  keen  observation 
of  the  world,  of  quaint  and  original  expression,  of  strong 
common  sense,  of  racy  humour,  of  sharp  but  good- 
natured  satire,  of  trenchant  wit  and  masculine  logic,  and 
exhibit  all  the  qualities  of  a  massive  and  comprehensive 
mind.  Their  author  is  equally  master  of  the  familiar  but 
forcible  style  of  Lord  Palmerston,  of  the  terse  and  pithy 
narrative  powers  of  the  Duke  of  Wellington,  and  of  the 
literary  strength  and  sweep  of  the  Marquis  of  Salis- 
bury.* These  despatches  are  perfect  models  of  report- 
ing. Of  all  ambassadors,  Americans  are  probably  the 
best.  With  them,  too,  diplomacy  is  a  profession,  but 
not  one  that  requires  any  preliminary  training  and  out- 
fit beyond  the  possession  of  an  educated,  open  mind 
(with  manners,  if  possible,  in  accordance),  and  a  seeing 
eye.  Their  idea  of  the  representative,  or  honourable-spy 
function,  is  the  true  one,  as  any  one  may  convince  him- 
self by  turning  up  a  volume  of  their  "  Foreign  Bela- 
tions."  Nothing  is  too  small  for  them  to  make  a  note 
of.  Nothing  escapes  their  observation,  and  whatever 
they  observe  they  report.  But  no  Minister  of  the 
United  States  ever  used  his  eyes  and  ears  more  vigilantly, 

*  In  the  Prussian  Chamber,  soon  after  their  publication,  Professor  von 
Sybel  pronounced  these  despatches  of  Bismarck  to  possess  "a  classic 
worth  unsurpassed  by  the  best  German  prose-writers  of  any  age." 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREEB.  149 

or  reported  more  faithfully  what  lie  saw  and  heard,  than 
did  Herr  von  Bismarck  at  the  Diet.  He  was  thorough. 
No  newspaper-correspondent  could  possibly  have  held 
the  candle  to  him.  He  was  the  greatest  tell-tale  in 
Frankfort.  Everything  went  to  Berlin — from  ttye  ferret- 
ing out  of  the  author  of  some  obnoxious  article  to  the 
denunciation  of  persons  of  doubtful  antecedents,  and  of 
a  Government  which  had  converted  a  cobbler  into  a  full- 
blown diplomatist.*  Penetrating  observations  on  the 
state  of  the  democratic  movement,  interesting  news 
items  from  the  neighbouring  Courts,  the  denunciation 
of  blasphemous  publications,  anecdotes  of  distinguished 
persons,  records  of  travel  and  of  social  adventure,  sage 

*  In  one  despatch  he  says  that  a  diplomatic  appointment  in  Frankfort 
had  just  been  conferred  on  "a  person  of  very  doubtful  antecedents." 
According  to  rumours  current  at  the  time,  the  objectionable  person  was 
originally  a  shoemaker's  apprentice.  A  well-off  elderly  lady  had  a  taken 
notice  of  him,"  had  caused  him  to  be  educated  at  her  expense,  had  pur- 
chased for  him  the  title  of  Freiherr,  and  had  then  married  him.  The 
Government  of  the  country  in  which  the  happy  pair  lived,  in  order  to 
procure  decorations  for  the  transformed  shoemaker,  had  sent  him  repeatedly 
to  other  Courts  with  congratulatory  messages;  and  on  these  occasions  articles 
written  by  himself  had  appeared  in  the  newspapers  describing  his  conver- 
sations with  "  the  most  eminent  diplomatists  of  the  Great  Powers."  "  If 
now,"  says  Herr  von  Bismarck,  "a  useless  post  has  been  granted  to  an 
individual  of  this  kind  for  no  other  purpose  than  to  force  for  him  an  entrance 
(which  he  has  hitherto  sought  in  vain)  into  good  society,  his  appointment 
is  an  abuse  of  sovereignty  which  cannot  but  have  evil  consequences  " 
Herr  von  Bismarck  had  little  doubt  that  the  Government  in  question  was 
capable  of  such  proceedings,  for  he  had  heard  that  it  had  "  an  open  shop 
for  patents  of  nobility,"  at  which  titles  were  sold  for  fixed  prices  to  any  one 
who  chose  to  apply  for  them.  He  thought  it  very  probable,  therefore, 
that  "  a  similar  traffic  in  diplomatic  appointments  had  been  established." 
In  consequence  of  these  representations  the  Prussian  Prime  Minister 
(Manteuffel)  attempted  to  stop  the  abuse  complained  of ;  and  his  advice 
to  Bismarck  on  the  subject  was  that  the  diplomatic  corps  should  combine 
to  "  cut "  the  upstart  complained  of. 


150  PRINCti   BISMARCK. 

reflections  on  the  relations  between  Church  and  State- 
such  is  the  kaleidoscopic  picture  presented  by  these  Bis- 
marck despatches. 

By  some  writers,  who  ought  to  have  known  better, 
it  has  been  asserted  that  Bismarck,  unhappy,  like  Alex- 
ander, at  having  no  more  foes  to  fight,  created  Ultra- 
The  Pope  and  montanisrn  for  the  simple  purpose  of  oppos- 
ing it;  but  those  who  read  his  Frankfort 
reports  on  the  Church-conflict  in  Baden  (1853)  will  find 
already  a  full  and  clear  expression  of  those  principles  in 
defence  of  which  he  was  compelled  to  take  up  the  Papal 
gauntlet  twenty  years  later.  Anxious  even  then  to  see 
the  power  of  the  Pope  in  Germany  confined  within 
proper  limits,  Bismarck  was  equally  zealous  in  his 
endeavour  to  impose  restraints  upon  the  Devil  in  certain 
fields  of  his  activity  ;  and  with  this  in  view  (December, 
1854)  he  moved  the  Diet  to  abolish  and  forbid  all 
public  gambling-tables  in  the  Fatherland.  To  be  sure, 
it  took  some  considerable  time  before  each  of  these 
foreign  potentates  was  assigned  his  present  share  of 
diminished  influence  on  the  affairs  of  Grermany  ;  but 
still  it  is  always  interesting  to  trace  the  beginning  of 
great  changes. 

With    Bismarck  the    characteristics    of   the    diplo- 
matist were   generally  lost  in  those    of  the  man.     In 
schwarzen-      April,   1852,  Prince  Schwarzenberg  died — 
the    man   who    had  threatened   to    "  abase 
Prussia,    and    then    abolish   her,"    and    Bismarck    was 
asked  to   attend  a  mass  for  the  soul  of  the  deceased. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  151 

But  this,  he  thought,   was  asking  a  little   too   much 
of  him.* 

During  his  Parliamentary  career  he  had  always 
strenuously  argued  that  bounds  should  be  set  to  the 
freedom  of  the  Press,  and  at  Frankfort  he  acted  on  his 
convictions.  A  democratic  print  had  com- 
pared the  black-red-and-gold  banner  on  the 
palace  of  the  Diet  to  a  "  virgin- wreath  over  a  house  of 
ill-fame."  Unfortunately  for  this  ribald  journal  the 
honour  of  the  body  against  which  it  never  ceased  to  rail 
was  in  the  temporary  keeping  of  its  Prussian  Vice- 
President,  who  promptly  informed  the  civic  authorities 
that  if  they  would  not,  within  a  stated  interval,  guarantee 
the  Diet  against  the  recurrence  of  such  insults,  he  would 
be  compelled  to  take  his  own  measures.  Meanwhile  he 
asked  the  commander  of  a  Prussian  regiment,  forming 
part  of  the  garrison,  what  he  would  do  if  required  to 
arrest  the  offending  editor  and  possess  his  premises. 
The  colonel  replied  that,  at  a  word  from  the  Prussian 
Envoy,  he  was  prepared  to  seize,  not  only  the  foul-penned 
democrat  himself,  but  also  the  whole  stiff-necked  Senate 
of  the  Free  City  of  Frankfort.  But  to  this  length  it 
was  unnecessary  to  go ;  for  at  the  instance  of  the 
Senate,  which  hastened  to  comply  with  the  imperious 
demands  of  a  man  whom  they  knew  to  be  terribly  in 
earnest,  the  scurrilous  newspaper  was  at  once  ex- 
tinguished. At  the  same  time  its  editor  was  soundly 

*  "  The  English  Envoy  (Lord  Cowley)  was  very  much  struck  on  my 
communicating  the  news  to  him,  and  he  then  said,  '  Au  fond  c'est  un 
heur"  to  which  Bismarck  doubtless  replied  with  a  deep  "Amen," 


152  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

belaboured  in  his  own  house  by  two  mysterious  mes- 
sengers of  vengeance,  whose  employer  it  was  impossible 
to  discover. 

But  then  the  police  of  Frankfort  were  a  shockingly 
supine  and  corrupt  body.  For  do  we  not  find  Bismarck 
himself  bitterly  complaining  of  the  perils  and  nuisances 
to  which  passengers  in  the  streets  of  this  free  and 
ancient  city  were  continually  exposed  ?  He 
Frankfort  and  himself,  though  not,  it  would  seem,  from 

Berlin. 

any  personal  unpopularity,  had  been  re- 
peatedly pelted  with  stones,  while  his  wife's  bonnet  had 
suffered  from  a  brick-bat  in  broad  daylight;  and,  as 
illustrating  the  character  of  the  men  who  were  paid  to 
guard  the  public  from  such  outrages,  he  instanced  the 
case  of  a  gendarme  who  had  made  himself  the  recipient 
of  two  hundred  articles  stolen  from  his  house  by  a 
servant-girl,  who  deemed  this  the  easiest  way  of  accumu- 
lating an  outfit  prior  to  making  off  to  America  with  her 
policeman-lover.  That  for  this  crime  the  man  was  only 
dismissed  the  force,  and  the  maid  let  off  with  a  fort- 
night in  gaol,  seemed  to  Bismarck  a  most  scandalous 
and  intolerable  miscarriage  of  justice  worth  the  notice 
of  his  Grovernment. 

It  would  have  been  well,  he  doubtless  thought,  if 
the  police  of  Frankfort  had  shared  a  little  more  of 
that  spirit  which  animated  the  force  at  Berlin  to  an 
intolerable  degree.  An  English  Captain  Yates,  when 
passing  through  Frankfort  (July,  1855),  had  com- 
plained to  Sir  Alexander  Malet  (the  British  Envoy 
there)  of  the  extreme  masterfulness  of  the  Berlin 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  153 

police;    and    Bismarck   wrote   with   reference  to    the 
story: 

"I  am  not  sufficiently  informed  about  the  incident  to  distinguish 
what  is  true  from  what  is  false  ;  but  the  complaints  of  all  travellers 
agree  in  calling  the  Berlin  police  the  rudest  in  Europe,  and  in  assert- 
ing that  in  their  arrogant  treatment  of  individuals,  as  well  as  in 
their  neglect  of  the  forms  of  civility  in  general,  they  excel  even  the 
French  mouchard.  My  own  experience  does  not  allow  me  to  contra- 
dict such  complaints.  The  tone  of  our  policemen  towards  strangers 
is  unnecessarily  harsh,  and  the  constables  hanging  about  the  streets 
of  Berlin  exercise  their  control  of  the  public  to  the  extent  of 
determining  the  height  to  which  respectable  ladies  shall  lift  their 
dresses  in  rainy  weather,  and  the  position  in  which  one  shall  sit  while 
driving  in  a  cab.  Petty  despotism  of  this  sort  is  often  a  much  more 
serious  cause  of  political  disaffection  than  difference  of  opinion  as  to 
forms  of  government  or  budget-rights.  But  in  the  subaltern  portion 
of  our  State-servants  there  is  rooted,  with  indestructible  fii-mness,  a 
tendency  to  be  overbearing  and  ruda" 

In  addition  to  his  diplomatic  office  at  Frankfort, 
Bismarck  had  been  specially  entrusted  with  the  manage- 
ment of  the  Prussian  Press  Bureau  there,  an  intricate 
piece  of  machinery  for  converting  the  journalism  of  that 
day,  such  as  it  was,  to  the  aims  and  pur- 
poses of  his  Government.  The  Austrians, 
on  their  part,  were  not  without  an  organisation  of  a 
similar  kind,  and  thus  the  rivalry  of  the  leading 
members  of  the  Diet  was  reflected  in  the  Press  by  hire- 
ling scribes, .  who  stabbed  like  masked  assassins  and 
mined  like  moles.  By  a  lucky  chance — it  was  in  the 
spring  of  1854 — Bismarck  acquired  possession  of  the 
key  to  the  enemy's  fortress  in  the  shape  of  an  old  desk 
which  had  been  sold  by  Baron  von  Prokesch,  his 


154  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Austrian  colleague.  In  the  pigeon-holes  of  this  secre- 
taire was  found  a  mass  of  correspondence  between  its 
previous  owner  and  his  secret  newspaper-agents  with 
respect  to  an  anti- Prussian  manipulation  of  the  German 
Press,  together  with  the  drafts  of  vehement  articles 
whose  authors  had  hitherto  been  sought  for  in  the  demo- 
cratic camp,  and  which,  though  containing  personal 
insults  to  the  King  of  Prussia,  had  appeared  when 
Baron  Prokesch  was  accredited  at  Berlin.  Another  man 
would  have  probably  used  the  discovery  as  a  means  of 
procuring  the  immediate  recall  of  the  Austrian  plotter. 
Bismarck  sagaciously  advised  his  Government  only  to 
publish  so  much  of  its  information  as  would  inspire 
Prokesch  with  a  feeling  of  harrowing  insecurity,  and 
make  the  other  States  admire  the  patience  and  long- 
suffering  of  Prussia.  Better  an  awkward  foe,  he  wisely 
thought,  than  a  dissembling  friend.  The  representative 
of  Austria  intrigued  with  the  craft  of  an  lago,  but  he 
was  met  with  a  subtlety  of  counterplot  unsurpassed  by 
the  conceptions  of  the  poet  who  penned  the  "  Con- 
spiracy of  Fiesco." 

One  dreadful  grievance  with  Bismarck  was  the  per- 
sistent practice  of  opening  his  letters  and  despatches  in 
which  the  foes  of  Prussia  indulged. 

M  Do  not  forget  when  you  write  to  me,"  was  the  caution  he  gave 
his  wife,  "  that  your  letters  are  not  only  read  by  me,  but  by  all 
sorts  of  post-office  spies." 

And  again : 

"As  to  politics  and  people  I  cannot  write  much,  as  most  of  the 
letters  are  opened  here,"  "I  am  uneasy  about  the  fate  of  a  very 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  155 

confidential  communication  I  sent  you  lately,"  he  tells  his  friend 
Wagener;  "three  of  my  letters  to  my  wife  have  gone  a-missing; 
if  damaged  in  the  opening  they  are  coolly  destroyed." 

"I  hope  your  wife  will  excuse  me,"  he  adds  in  a      Letter-opening 

and  its  conse- 
postscript  to  Herr  von  Manteuffel,  "  if  I  send  this  de-      quences. 

spatch  addressed  externally  to  her,  so  as  to  obviate  the 
chance  of  its  being  officially  opened."     .     .     .     "If  the     ...     or 
others  are  enabled  to  sow  mistrust  in  our  camp,  they  will  have  gained 
thereby  the  chief  purpose  of  their  letter-pilfering." 

Continuing  for  years,  this  annoying  system  of 
espionage,  combined  with  other  postal  abuses,  at  last  (in 
1858)  induced  Bismarck  to  take  the  initiative  in  an 
attempt  to  wrest  from  the  princely  house  of  Thurn-and- 
Taxis  the  letter- carrying  monopoly  which  it  had  enjoyed 
for  centuries.  But  this  assault  of  his  on  a  private 
privilege,  which  had  proved  itself  to  be  no  longer  com- 
patible with  the  public  interest,  was  frustrated  no  less 
by  the  opposition  of  Austria  than  by  the  apathy  of  his 
own  Government;  and  it  was  not  till  1866,  on  the 
establishment  of  the  North  German  Confederation,  that 
he  succeeded  in  transforming  the  Thurn-and-Taxis  post- 
office  into  a  State  institution. 

«r 

But  of  all  his  despatches  written  during  his  stay  at 
Frankfort  certainly  the  most  interesting  to  the  general 
student  is  a  sort  of  inventory  of  the  charac- 
ters of  all  his  colleagues  in  the  Diet.     These     diplomatic0 

0  portraits. 

personal  sketches  read  like  pages  from  Theo- 
phrastus  or  La  Bruyere,  and  prove  that  their  author  had 
the  choice  of  becomiDg  great  in  politics  or  in  literature. 
As  serving  to  denote  the  human  element  in  which  Bis- 
marck then  lived  and  moved,  we  may  be  excused  for 


156  PRINCE   BISMAHGK. 

projecting  on  our  canvas,  in  his  own  colours,  the  mere 
heads  of  his  Frankfort  companions,  while  regretting  that 
we  have  no  room  for  their  marvellously  well-drawn  full 
figures. 

Herr  von  Prokesch,*  presiding  member  of  the  Diet 
for  Austria  (in  1853),  is  first  put  on  the  pillory  : 

"The  easy  calmness  with  which  he  advances  falsehoods  or  contests 
the  truth  even  exceeds  my  pretty  high  expectations  in  this  respect ; 
and  add  to  this  a  surprising  degree  of  coolness  in  dropping  a  sub- 
ject or  changing  front,  as  soon  as  the  falsity  of  his  premises  is  proved 
to  him  beyond  all  quibble.  If  need  be,  he  will  cover  his  retreat  in 
such  a  case  by  an  outburst  of  moral  indignation  or  by  a  very  personal 
attack,  with  which  he  transfers  the  discussion  to  a  new  and  totally 
different  field.  His  chief  weapons  in  the  petty  warfare  which  I  am 
obliged  to  wage  with  him  whenever  our  interests  diverge  are — passive 
resistance,  which  often  imposes  on  me  the  rdle  of  an  importunate  dun, 
and  the  fait  accompli  of  presidential  encroachments,  apparently 
trifling  in  themselves,  which  are  generally  made  in  such  a  manner 
that  remonstrance  on  my  part  must  look  like  quarrelsome  and  hair- 
splitting criticism.  ...  It  was  only  the  other  day  I  was  obliged 
to  take  him  to  task  for  raising  a  loan  of  87,000  florins  on  his 
own  responsibility  for  fortification  expenses,  on  which  occasion  he 
appealed  to  *  hundreds '  of  precedents  (of  a  like  kind),  though  he  could 
not  name  me  a  single  one  of  them.  He  then  declared  that  a  certain 
discretionary  power  for  the  carrying  on  of  business  was  indispensable 
to  the  President ;  that  formerly  no  one  would  have  dared  to  make  a 
noise  about  such  trifles ;  and  that  it  could  not  possibly  conduce  to 
the  maintenance  of  a  good  understanding  between  us  and  Austria  if 
every  action  of  the  President  were  to  be  thus  exposed  to  malevolent 
criticism  on  the  part  of  the  Prussian  member.  .  .  .  He  was 
sure  the  Diet  would  not  seek  to  disavow  his  act ;  but  should  it  do 
so,  he  was  prepared  to  pay  the  c  trifling  interest  on  the  loan  out  of 
his  own  pocket.'  I  replied  that  the  latter  course  seemed  to  me  a 

*  "We  have  already  presented  our  readers  with  Bismarck's  portrait  of 
Count  Thnn,  the  predecessor  of  Prokesch,  See  p.  122,  ante. 


DIPLOMATIC   OAREER.  157 

happy  one,  and  the  only  proper  solution  of  the  difficulty  that  had 
arisen.     .     .     ."* 

The  Bavarian  member,  Herr  von  Schrenck,  was  by 
Bismarck  accounted  to  be  one  of  the  best  elements  in 
the  Diet,  both  in  point  of  character  and  accomplishments. 

"  A  thorough  and  diligent  worker,  he  is  practical  in  his  views  and 
judgments,  though  sometimes  a  little  dogmatio  from  his  legal  educa- 
tion. .  .  .  Officially,  he  is  open  and  complaisant  as  long  as  his 
high-strung  and  excitable  national  feelings  are  spared — a  weakness 
to  which  I  strive  to  be  particularly  considerate.  .  .  ." 

"  My  Saxon  colleague,  Herr  von  Nostitz,  inspires  me  with  less 
confidence,  believing  as  I  do — though  I  should  be  glad  if  I  read  him 
wrongly — that,  on  the  whole,  personal  interests  are  more  with  him 
than  political  ones.  .  .  .  His  political  conduct  is  determined  by 
the  wish  to  retain  his  official  post  here  (from  various  domestic  and 
pecuniary  motives),  and  certainly,  considering  the  present  tendency 
of  the  Saxon  Government,  Austria  has  much  more  cause  to  fortify 
him  in  his  position  than  Prussia.  .  .  .  With  his  great  power  of 

*  Once  during  the  Franco-German  war  Bismarck  said  : — "  No  Austrian 
diplomatist  of  the  school  of  that  day  troubled  himself  very  much  about  the 
exact  truth.  Prokesch  was  not  at  all  the  man  for  me.  He  had  brought 
with  him  from  the  East  the  trick  of  the  most  miserable  intrigues.  Truth 
was  a  matter  of  absolute  indifference  to  him.  I  remember  once,  in  a  large 
company,  there  was  some  talk  of  an  Austrian  assertion  which  did  not 
square  with  the  truth.  Prokesch  raised  his  voice  and  said,  so  that  I  should 
hear  him  distinctly,  '  If  that  were  not  true  I  should  have  been  lying  (and 
he  emphasised  the  word)  in  the  name  of  the  Imperial- Royal  Government.' 
He  looked  me  straight  in  the  face.  I  returned  the  look,  and  said,  quietly, 
'  Quite  so,  your  Excellency.'  He  was  obviously  shocked  ;  but  when  on 
looking  round  he  perceived  nothing  but  down-dropped  eyes  and  solemn 
silence,  which  meant  to  say  that  I  was  in  the  right,  he  turned  on  his  heel 
and  went  into  the  dining-room  where  covers  were  laid.  After  dinner  he 
had  recovered  himself,  and  came  across  to  me  with  a  full  glass,  for  other- 
wise I  should  have  supposed  that  he  was  going  to  call  me  out.  He  said, 
'  Come  now ;  let  us  make  friends.'  '  Why  not  ?  '  said  I ;  '  but  the  protocol 
must  of  course  be  altered.'  '  You  are  incorrigible,'  he  replied,  smiling. 
It  was  all  right.  The  protocol  was  altered,  so  that  they  recognised  that  it 
had  contained  an  untruth." — "Bismarck  in  the  Franco- German  War." 


158  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

work,  intelligence,  and  long  experience,  he  is  the  most  effective 
supporter  of  all  that  Austria  tries  to  achieve  in  the  Diet " 

Bismarck  regretted  that  the  Diet  was  likely  to  lose 
Herr  von  Bothmer,  for  Hanover, 

"  who  has  not  only  a  straightforward  and  prepossessing  character, 
but  is  also  the  only  one  of  my  colleagues  who  has  independence 
enough  to  give  me  more  than  passive  assistance  when  I  have  to 
expostulate  with  the  (Austrian)  President." 

A  very  different  stamp  of  man  was  the  Wurtemberg 
Envoy,  Herr  von  Eeinhard,  who  was  as  "  superficial  and 
confused  "  as  Herr  von  Bothmer  was  clear  and  thorough. 
Either  from  personal  pique,  or  "  a  tendency  to  concern 
himself  more  with  insane  theory  than  sober  practice," 
he  cherished  a  deep  and  bitter  dislike  of  Prussia,  going 
even  far  beyond  the  instructions  of  his  Court  in  this 
respect.  He  always  came  late  to  the  sittings  of  the 
Diet,  and  by  his  inattention  and  stupidity  occasioned 
immense  waste  of  time. 

The  Baden  colleague  of  this  perverse  character,  Herr 
von  Marschall,  was  "not  without  understanding  and 
business  capacity,"  but  he  had  an  inveterate  tendency 
to  "  disclaim  all  responsibility  for  an  independent  judg- 
ment," and  to  attempt  to  sit  on  two  chairs  at  the  same 
time — a  man  of  whom  Bismarck  had  not  much  to  expect. 

The  representative  of  Kur-Hesse,  Herr  von  Trott, 
impressed  Bismarck  more  as  a  bluff  and  jovial  hunting 
squire  than  as  an  ambassador.  Whenever  he  came  to 
the  sittings,  and  that  he  did  as  rarely  as  possible,  he 
voted  straight  off  according  to  his  instructions,  which 
had  generally  been  dictated  by  Austria. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  159 

A  more  hostile  element  than  this  good-natured 
Nimrod  was  to  be  found  in  Freiherr  von  Miinch- 
Bellinghausen,  the  member  for  Ducal  Hesse,  whose 
Catholic  sentiments  made  him  a  steady  opponent  of 
Prussia,  "  though  without  any  discernible  tendency  to 
insincerity  and  intrigue  beyond  the  bounds  of  the  anti- 
Prussian  policy  prescribed  to  him  by  his  Government." 
That  a  Protestant  Sovereign  in  conflict  with  his  Catholic 
bishops  should  make  such  a  man  his  representative, 
seemed  to  Bismarck  anomalous. 

"  One  of  the  cleverest  and  most  impartial  heads  in 
the  Diet  is  Herr  von  Billow,  representing  Denmark 
(for  the  Elbe  Duchies)/'  on  whom,  as  on  all  who  ever 
struck  him  for  their  ability,  Bismarck,  be  it  remarked 
in  passing,  continued  to  keep  an  eye,  and  in  after  years 
made  him  Chief  of  the  Foreign  Office,  in  which  capacity 
he  was  one  of  the  German  Plenipotentiaries  at  the 
Congress  of  Berlin. 

"To  our  truest  allies  belongs  Herr  Yon  Scherff "  (Envoy  of  the 
King  of  the  Netherlands  for  Luxemburg) — "an  experienced  and 
painfully  conscientious  man  of  business,  and  of  great  assistance  to 
me,  especially  outside  the  Diet." 

"  Of  his  neighbour,  Freiherr  von  Fritsch  (for  the  Ducal-Saxon 
Sovereigns),  I  have  nothing  to  wish,  except  that  his  power  to  support 
our  Prussian  policy  might  equal  his  will."  .  .  . 

"  Nassau  and  Brunswick  are  represented  by  Freiherr 
von  Dungern,  an  inoffensive  character  who  neither  by 
personal  talents  nor  political  weight  exercises  any 
influence  on  the  Diet,"  and  who,  for  the  rest,  exemplified 
the  saying  that  no  man  can  serve  two  masters.  His 


160  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

family  and  other  relations  generally  inclined  him  to 
favour  Austria,  who  controlled  the  neighbouring  Court 
of  Nassau ;  and  as  for  poor  Brunswick,  the  little  he  did 
for  it  was  scarcely  to  be  regarded,  in  the  opinion  of 
Bismarck,  as  an  equivalent  for  his  salary. 

Of  the  Mecklenburg  member,  Herr  von  Oertzen, 
Bismarck  had  a  high  opinion,  and  could  always  count 
upon  his  openness  and  honesty,  as,  like  himself,  he  had 
gradually  been  weaned  from  his  sympathies  for 
Austria. 

The  representative  of  Oldenburg,  Anhalt,  and 
Schwarzburg,  was  Herr  von  Eisendecher,  "a  kindly 
man  of  wit  and  lively  conversation,"  who  advocated 
the  development  of  the  Diet  into  a  strong  central 
power  as  compensation  for  the  failure  of  Prussia's 
efforts  to  achieve  national  unity,  of  which  he  had 
previously  been  a  warm  supporter. 

A  very  singular  and  high-prancing  person  in  the 
eyes  of  Bismarck  was  Freiherr  von  Holzhausen — the 
member  for  half-a-dozen  insignificant  States,  a  moneyed 
worldling  of  an  old  patrician  race  in  Frankfort,  his  head 
turned  with  the  title  of  Privy  Councillor,  his  portly 
body  blazing  with  several  grand  crosses,  and  his  vaulting 
imagination  full  of  family  pride  and  the  faded  glories  of 
the  Holy  Eoman  Empire.  To  this  extraordinary  man 
the  whole  policy  of  Prussia  seemed  nothing  but  "  re- 
volutionary usurpation  "  which  he  took  every  means  to 
oppose,  being  equally  ready  to  act,  with  or  without 
instructions,  in  the  most  unscrupulous  and  high-handed 
way.  Bismarck  suspected  that  the  motive  for  his 


DIPLOMATIC    CAEEER.  161 

conduct  was  to  be  found  in  a  terribly  strong  hankering 
after  another  Imperial  order,  and  for  the  elevation  of  his 
family  to  the  rank  of  Austrian  Counts. 

Such,  then,  was  the  human  environment  in  which 
Bismarck   more   immediately    moved ;    such   were    the 
men  with  whom  he  primarily  had  to  cope.      The  rest  of 
his  companions  were  chiefly  members  of  the     Count  Mont_ 
foreign  Diplomatic  Body,  and  most  of  their 
characters,   too,  are  graphically  hit  off  here  and  there 
throughout  these   despatches.     Take,  for  example,  the 
following  sketch  of  the  French  Ambassador  (in  1856)  : — 

"  My  French  colleague,  Count  Montessuy,  attaches  on  the  whole 
too  much  importance  to  the  Press,  and  extracts  therefrom  much  un- 
trustworthy matter  for  his  reports,  having  no  proper  conception  of 
the  ways  and  character  of  our  German  newspaper-men.  He  con- 
tinues to  report  with  unabated  zeal,  and  is  to  some  extent  feared  by 
my  German  colleagues,  at  whose  mysterious  self-importance  he  rims 
amuck  with  direct  questionings  and  inquisitorial  endeavours  to  get 
at  what  passed  in  our  sittings.  Socially  he  has  not  succeeded  in 
making  a  good  position  for  himself  here,  for  which  his  wife  is 
chiefly  to  blame.  For  by  the  '  federal  ladies '  she  is  not  found  polite 
enough  for  them  to  pardon  her  pretensions  and  her  diamonds,  while 
her  invitations  are  the  germ  of  fresh  bickerings,  seeing  that  in  the 
selection  and  seating  of  her  guests  she  takes  not  into  account  the 
manifold  cliffs  of  rank  and  other  claims  existing  here.  Some  of  the 
federal  envoys,  indeed,  do  not  go  any  more  to  Montessuy 's.  But  I 
belong  to  the  few  who  stand  well  with  both  man  and  wife,  and  my 
only  objection  to  their  house  is  that  there  is  bad  eating  and  worse 
drinking  in  it — which  I,  however,  with  my  accustomed  devotion  to 
the  royal  service,  bear  without  grumbling,  as  Montessuy  is  otherwise 
a  pleasant  colleague  for  me." 

Bismarck  also  saw  much  of  Prince  Grortchakoff  who, 
in  addition  to  representing  the  Czar  at  Stuttgart,  was 
L 


1(52  PHINCB    -B1SMAUQK. 

accredited  to  the  Germanic  Diet.  It  has  been  truly 
said  of  the  Eussian  diplomatist  that  he  began  by  being 
Prince  Gort-  Prince  Bismarck's  patron,  that  he  gradually 
became  Prince  Bismarck's  dupe,  and  that 
he  ended  by  being  Prince  Bismarck's  overmatched 
antagonist.  We  shall  afterwards  have  occasion  to  see 
how  the  master  was  outstripped  by  his  pupil,  but  mean- 
while we  may  note  that,  even  in  the  Frankfort  days, 
Grortchakoff  had  begun  to  develop  that  fatal  tendency 
to  pose  as  the  Deus  ex  machind  in  diplomatic  quarrels 
to  which  he  finally  owed  his  fall  :— 

"I  may  mention  as  a  curiosity,"  wrote  Bismarck  (April,  1852)( 
"  that  when  Prince  Gortchakoff  was  here  two  months  ago,  he  affected 
to  have  bi  ought  about  by  his  personal  mediation  a  complete  recon- 
ciliation between  Prussia  and  Austria — though  not  so  much,  as  ho 
said,  by  his  own  merit  as  from  the  circumstance  of  his  being  llefaible 
faho  de  la  voix  de  VEmpereur.'  But,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  we  had 
already  settled  our  differences  with  Austria"  (for  the  time  being) 
"before  his  arrival  here." 

But  of  all  his  foreign  colleagues,  Bismarck  lived  on 
terms  of  greatest  intimacy  with  Sir  Alexander  Malet, 
representing  England,  whom  he  sincerely  admired  and 
respected.  The  honest,  simple,  straightforward  character 
of  Sir  Alexander  pleased  him,  and  they  hunted,  travelled, 
and  lived  much  together.  Official  tension  could  not 
disturb  their  private  friendship,  and  the  latter  was 
severely  tested  by  a  misunderstanding  which  had  arisen 
about  the  claims  of  an  English  nobleman  (the  Earl  of 
Beiitinck)  to  a  property  in  Oldenburg — of  no  human 
interest  now  to  any  one,  even  of  the  Dryasdust  class. 
Suffice  it  to  say  that  the  English  Government  espoused 


DIPLOMATIC    CAUEEft.  163 

the  cause  of  the  peer,  and  made  a  representation  on  the 
subject  to  the  Diet,  or  rather  to  its  Austrian  President. 
Bismarck  at  first  opposed  the  discussion  of  the  matter, 
less  from  reasons  of  substance  than  of  form,  being 
determined  to  set  his  face  against  the  fiction — cherished, 
among  others,  by  the  misapprehending  powers  of 
Downing  Street — that  the  Diplomatic  Body  were  bound 
to  confine  their  business  relations  with  the  Diet  to  its 
President,  a  fiction  which  Austria  industriously  used  as 
an  additional  weapon  against  her  Prussian  rival.  A 
correspondence  on  the  subject  took  place  between  the 
Cabinets  of  London  and  Berlin,  the  result  being  that 
Lord  Clarendon  conveyed  to  Bismarck  his  thanks  for 
the  clearer  insight  the  latter  had  given  as  to  the  con- 
stitution of  the  Diet,  and  instructed  Sir  Alexander 
Malet  to  act  henceforth  in  conformity  with  the  prin- 
ciples laid  down  by  his  Prussian  colleague.  What 
directly  led  to  this  correspondence  was  a  complaint  by 
Lord  Bloomfield  at  Berlin — quite  groundless,  as  it 
turned  out — that  in  the  affair  Bismarck  had  shown 
great  hostility  to  England. 

"  I  am  really  at  a  loss  to  know,"  wrote  Bismarck  (January,  1858) 
to  Baron  Manteuffel  in  self-justification,  "  what  could  have  induced 
me  to  act  as  I  am  said  to  have  done,  seeing  that  not  only  with  both 
the  Bentincks,  but  also  with  Sir  Alexander  Malet,  I  have  always  been 
on  the  best  footing,  and  seeing  also  that  in  general,  as  your  Excellency 
knows,  my  sympathies  for  England  are  livelier  than  for  any  other 
country  after  my  own."* 

In  dealing  with  things  Bismarck's  main   strength 

»  Seep.  207, post. 
L  2 


164  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

has  ever  been  his  consummate  knowledge  of  men,  and 
before  accepting  his  post  at  Frankfort  he  had  stipulated 

Bismarck  w^  ^e  ^ng  ^°  gran^  him  opportunity  of 

thSfaGmnd  visiting  all  the  chief  German  Courts  in 
order  that  he  might  become  acquainted 
with  the  leading  personalities  at  them.*  Darmstadt 
was  ene  of  the  capitals  to  which  the  pursuit  of  this 
systematic  study  of  character  frequently  took  him,  and 
he  once  related  f  that  he  had  reason  to  suppose  he  was 
not  a  favourite  with  the  Grand  Duchess  Mathilda,  who 
said  of  him  to  some  one :  "  He  is  always  there,  and 
looks  as  if  he  were  as  big  a  man  as  the  Grand  Duke 
himself."  But,  indeed,  he  once  had  an  opportunity  of 
proving  himself  to  be  a  much  bigger  man  than  His 
Highness,  and  the  incident  is  worth  referring  to  as 
illustrating  the  petty  spites  and  jealousies  which  then 
dominated  the  minor  Courts,  as  well  as  the  bold  and 
masterful  character  of  the  man  who  was  now  in  training 
to  cleanse  the  Augean  stable  of  German  diplomacy. 

Herr  von  Dalwigk,  the  Grand  Duke  of  Hesse's 
Prime  Minister,  was  an  inveterate  foe  of  Prussia,  and 
lost  no  opportunity  of  testifying  his  hatred  of  that 
Power.  Now,  for  some  reason  or  other,  the  Prussian 
Minister  at  Darmstadt,  Baron  Canitz, 
Herr  ^<m  ISi-  proved  a  thorn  in  the  flesh  of  Herr  von 

wigk.  r 

Dalwigk  ;  and  the  King  of  Prussia  was  one 
day  surprised  with  a  demand  for  the  recall  of  his  repre- 

*  "  Recollections  of  my  Life,"  by  Herr  von  TTnruh  (to  whom  Bismarck 
related  this  fact),  in  the  Deutsche  Revue  for  October,  1881. 
f  Dr.  Busch. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  165 

sentative.  Canitz,  said  Dalwigk,  had  spoken  to  him  in 
a  too  inquisitive  and  insulting  manner,  and  honour 
therefore  required  that  he  should  be  dismissed  from  his 
post.  Bismarck  was  all  the  more  astounded  at  this 
request  as  knowing  Baron  Canitz  to  be  a  man  of 
polished  manners  and  "  scrupulous  veracity,"  and  as 
being  morally  convinced  that  Dalwigk's  charges  against 
him  were  a  pure  fabrication. 

"  If  therefore,"  he  wrote,  "  I  may  take  the  liberty  of  roundly 
expressing  my  opinion  in  the  matter,  I  would  respond  to  the 
audacious  assumption  of  Herr  von  Dalwigk,  that  he  can  procure  the 
recall  of  a  Prussian  agent  at  his  bon  plaisir,  with  the  emphatic  decla- 
ration that  there  is  altogether  no  prospect  of  prosperous  diplomatic 
intercourse  between  Prussia  and  Darmstadt  as  long  as  Herr  von 
Dalwigk  remains  at  the  head  of  the  Ministry.  I  am  sure  that  we 
should  carry  our  point,  and  our  stocks  would  thus  experience  a  con- 
siderable rise.  For  in  all  duty  and  conscience  I  can  assure  you  that, 
if  Herr  von  Dalwigk  cannot  get  along  with  Canitz,  he  could  only  do  so 
with  a  representative  of  Prussia  more  devoted  to  the  service  of 
Hesse  than  to  ours.  I  am  all  the  more  ardent  in  espousing  his  cause, 
as  having  always  encouraged  Canitz  to  be  more  energetic  and  less 
accommodating  in  his  behaviour  towards  Herr  von  Dalwigk  than  his 
kindly,  quiet,  and  courteous  manners  would  naturally  incline  him 
to  be." 

Bismarck  was  charmed  with  the  opportunity  which 
had  thus  unexpectedly  presented  itself  of  pushing 
Dalwigk  from  a  position  which  he  had  used  to  the 
detriment  of  Prussia,  but  he  was  too  wary  to  demand 
his  summary  dismissal  from  office.  Such  a 
request,  he  argued,  would  only  have  the 
effect  of  making  his  Grand-Ducal  master 
"  sulk  "  and  grow  surly.  A  much  more  convenient  way, 
he  said,  of  abolishing  Dalwigk  (whom  he  characterised 


166  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

as  a  "  base  Eliine-Confederationist  " )  *  would  be  to 
comply  with  the  demand  of  Hesse  for  the  recall  of 
Canitz,  thereupon  send  away  Gortz  (the  Hessian  Envoy) 
from  Berlin,  and  then  approach  the  Grand  Duke  with 
this  fait  accompli  of  ruptured  relations,  and  a — "  tu  I' as 
voulu,  Georges  Dandin  !  " 

The   King  of  Prussia  hesitated  not  to  accept  the 

advice  of  Herr  von  Bismarck,  who  was  at  once  entrusted 

with  the  task  of  giving  effect  to  it ;  and  for  this  purpose 

he  repaired  to  Darmstadt  to  "  beard  the  lion 

notions ofdi-      in    his   den."     Of   his    interview    with   the 

plomacy. 

Grand  Duke  he  gave  a  most  amusing  ac- 
count, telling  how  His  Highness,  among  other  things, 
avowed  that  he  "  only  cared  to  have  such  diplomatists 
about  him  as  asked  no  questions  which  could  not  be 
answered."  f  To  which  Bismarck  replied,  that  "  diplo- 
matists in  general  were  expressly  paid  for  continuing  to 
ask  questions  until  they  could  no  longer  get  an  answer." 
But  neither  from  the  Grand  Duke  nor  his  Prime 
Minister  could  he  wring  a  promise  of  the  satisfaction 
required  by  the  offended  honour  of  Prussia.  It  was  not 
calculated  to  raise  ^  his  hopes  of  a  decent  settlement  of 
the  squabble  that,  in  calling  to  discuss  it  with  Dalwigk, 
he  was  asked  by  that  worthy  to  come  back  in  two 
hours ;  and  when  at  last  Bismarck  managed  to  procure 
an  audience  of  the  great  man,  and  begged  him  to  step 
over  to  the  palace  and  have  it  out  with  him  before  the 

*  "  schnoder  Rheinbundler." 

f  It  was  one  of  Dalwigk's  charges  against  Baron  Canitz  that  the  latter 
had  asked  him  an  indiscreet  question, 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  167 

Grand  Duke,  the  Minister  declined  the  invitation  on  the 
plea  that  his  attire  was  un suited  to  the  presence  of 
Majesty. 

A  second  time  did  Bismarck  return  to  Darmstadt, 
but  with  no  better  result.  Dalwigk  was  as  obstinate  in 
swearing  on  his  honour  that  he  had  received 
the  alleged  provocation  from  Canitz,  as 
Canitz  was  persistent  in  avowing  his  inno- 
cence on  his  sacred  oath  of  office  ;  but  Bismarck  could 
not  doubt  that  Dalwigk  had  trifled  with  the  truth  to 
his  master,  when  he  beheld  how  the  hypocrite  affected 
to  profess  his  "  especial  predilection  "  for  that  Prussia, 
with  implacable  hatred  of  which  his  heart  was  well 
known  to  be  filled.  That  happy  relations  between 
Prussia  and  Hesse  could  never  exist  as  long  as  Dalwigk 
remained  in  office  Bismarck  was  assured  by  one  of  the 
Hessian  Minister's  own  colleagues  (Baron  von  Schaffer- 
Bernstein)  who  aspired  to  usurp  his  place,  and  who 
scrupled  not,  conspirator-like,  to  seek  a  secret  meeting 
with  the  Prussian  Envoy  in  a  solitary  wood,*  the  better 
to  avoid  detection  in  the  dangerous  task  of  seeking  to 
prove  himself  a  much  more  acceptable  Hessian  Premier 
to  Prussia  than  his  chief. 

Conciliatory  offers  were  of  no  avail.      The  Grand 
Duke  refused  to  take  advantage  of  the  door 

P  .  i      ,    TV  .  i      i    PI  i  •  "Sellum  civile" 

ol  escape  that  Bismarck  left  open   to   him,     between  Hesse 

1  r  and  Prussia. 

and  the  "  bellum  civile"  which  His  Highness 

*  •'  Soon  after  my  last  audience  with  the  Grand  Duke,  he  (Schaffer) 
asked  me  for  an  interview,  which  he  declared,  however,  must  necessarily 
be  of  a  strictly  private  nature ;  and  so  it  took  pkce  in  a  wood  between 
here  and  Mayence,  whither  I  went  on  pretence  of  a  shooting  excursion," 


168  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

had  so  earnestly  deprecated,  was  at  once  declared  by  the 
rupture  of  diplomatic  intercourse  between  Darmstadt 
and  Berlin  (July,  1853).  All  the  Courts  of  Germany 
were  in  a  titter  at  the  scandal.  In  the  whole  course  of 
his  life  the  Grand  Duke  had  never  been  so  boldly  spoken 
to  as  by  Herr  von  Bismarck.  It  was  plain  that,  whoever 
was  the  nominal  head  of  the  Government  at  Berlin, 
Prussia,  under  some  latent  influence  or  other,  was  begin- 
ning to  hold  her  head  much  higher  than  of  late.  Bis- 
marck himself  was  appointed  interim  Charge  d'Affaires  at 
Darmstadt,  but  his  Government  revoked  the  nomination 
on  his  showing  that  it  savoured  of  conciliation  and  half- 
measures.  So  determined,  indeed,  was  he  to  make  his 
opponents  realise  their  isolation,  that  he  returned  to  the 
Hessian  Envoy  at  Frankfort  a  presentation  copy  of  the 
Darmstadt  Court-Calendar  for  1854,  which  had  always 
hitherto  been  exchanged  for  the  Prussian  publication  of 
the  same  character. 

But  this  state  of  things  could  not  continue  for  ever. 

Hesse  soon  began  to  feel  wretched  in  her  separation,  and 

to  wish  to  return  to  her  old  love.     Meeting 

tbeSyof 8         Bismarck  at  dinner  in  Frankfort,  Dalwigk 

decorations. 

sang  to  him  a  sort  of  low-toned  pater  pec- 
cam.  The  Grand  Duke  soon  after  wrote  an  autograph 
missive  of  penitence  to  the  King  of  Prussia,  who  re- 
sponded to  this  first  advance  by  an  epistle  full  of  con- 
ciliation ;  and  by  the  beginning  of  the  year  1855,  after 
about  eighteen  months  of  "  helium  civile"  Bismarck  was 
able  to  announce  that  diplomatic  relations  had  been 
restored  between  the  two  Courts,  and  that  he  himself 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  169 

had  been  decorated  by  the  Grand  Duke  for  his  merits  in 
the  affair  with  the  Grand  Cross  of  the  Order  of  Philip 
the  Magnanimous. 

"  It  is  to  be  supposed,"  he  wrote,  "  that  Herr  von  Dalwigk,  on 
his  part,  expects  or  wishes  to  receive  the  Grand  Ribbon  of  the  Red 
Eagle  in  exchange  for  this  (decoration  of  mine).  And  if  I  am  right 
in  my  assumption  that,  in  most  cases  where  orders  are  conferred  on 
foreign  ministers,  their  services  for  the  future  are  more  taken  into 
consideration  than  their  merits  in  the  past,  I  would  venture  to 
suggest  that  the  ambition  of  Herr  von  Dalwigk  might  be  gratified  in 
the  interest  of  our  good  relations,  which  would  thus  remain  undis- 
turbed by  disappointed  hopes." 

The  King,  however,  thought  it  meanwhile  inop- 
portune to  comply  with  the  suggestion  of  his  Envoy 
until  the  acts  of  Dalwigk  should  entitle  him  to  the 
decoration ;  but  in  any  case  Bismarck  had  the  satisfac- 
tion of  knowing  that,  although  he  had  not  succeeded  in 
pushing  the  Hessian  Premier  from  power,  he  had  at 
least,  so  to  speak,  brought  him  to  his  knees  before  the 
Prussia  which  he  loathed. 

We  have  seen  how  Bismarck,  comparatively  free 
from  any  "  youthful  illusions  "  with  respect  to  Austria, 
came  to  Frankfort  with  the  mission  and  the  hope  of 
establishing  parity  of  influence  between  that.  Power 
and  Prussia  in  all  matters  subject  to  the 
jurisdiction  of  the  Diet.  Now,  the  first  mSatiSn  of0" 

'  t  the  Diet. 

element  with  which  lie  had  to  reckon  in  the 
attainment  of  this  object  was  the  fact  that  the  thirty- 
four   minor  States,  with  an  aggregate  population   less 
than    that    of    Prussia,    disposed   of    fifteen   votes  to 
Prussia's  one.     It  followed  that,  as  between  the  two 


170  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

Great  Powers,  the  predominant  one  in  the  Diet  would 
be  that  which  could  command  the  suffrage  of  the '  petty 
Sovereigns ;  and  it  at  once  became  apparent  that  most 
of  these  were  in  the  leading-strings  of  Austria.  "  In 
any  case  of  divergence  between  Austria  and  Prussia,  as 
matters  now  stand/'  Bismarck  wrote,  a  few  months  after 
his  arrival  in  Frankfort,  "the  majority  of  the  Federal 
Assembly  is  ensured  to  Austria."  And  here  were  the 
concise  reasons  he  gave  for  this  state  of  affairs : — 

"It  is  attributable,"  he  wrote  (22nd  December,  1851),  "to  a 
mistrustful  irritability  maintained  towards  Prussia  by  most  of  the 
Middle- German  Courts  ever  since  the  epoch  of  the  March-Revolution. 
In  those  quarters  an  inclination  obtains  to  lend  credence  to  insinu- 
ations that,  by  reason  of  her  geographical  situation,  Prussia  cannot 
but  be  bent  upon  coercing,  in  one  way  or  another,  the  Princes  whose 
realms  abut  upon  her  frontiers  into  dependence  upon  her,  appealing 
against  them  (with  this  object)  to  popular  sympathy  with  German 
unity.  Austria,  meanwhile,  flatters  the  *  particularistic '  Sovereigns 
with  the  prospect  of  being  rendered  independent  and  autocratic,  as 
far  as  their  respective  subjects  are  concerned;  while  pointing  out 
to  them  that  her  own  geographical  position  with  relation  to  the 
smaller  States  incapacitates  her  from  attempting  to  encroach  upon 
their  independence.  We  should  not,  moreover,  under-estimate  the 
influence  exercised  upon  most  German  Sovereigns  by  their  personal 
entourage.  As  a  rule,  the  most  influential  personages  at  German 
Courts  belong  to  a  social  class  which  has  much  more  to  hope  for 
from  an  Austrian  than  from  a  Prussian  evolution  of  German  affairs. 
Besides,  a  great  many  persons  appertaining  to  this  category  have 
sons  or  other  relatives  in  the  Austrian  service,  whose  advancement 
they  consider  to  be  bound  up  with  their  own  furtherance  of  Austria's 
policy.  .  .  .  Furthermore,  I  regard  the  following  as  an  im- 
portant consideration.  The  German  States  are  afraid  of  reprisals  on 
the  part  of  Austria,  whereas  they  feel  sure  of  conciliatory  and 
benevolent  treatment  on  that  of  Prussia,  whatever  may  happen.  .  .  . 
Our  Confederates  are  accustomed  to  Austria's  system  of  strict 


DIPLOMATIC  CAREER.  171 

reciprocity,  in  friendship  and  in  enmity,  and  of  never  allowing 
herself  to  be  restrained,  either  by  moral  or  legal  principles,  from  fully 
paying  out  anybody  who,  being  expected  to  stand  by  her,  fails  to 
do  so." 

This,  then,  was  the  state  of  affairs  which  made 
Bismarck  counsel  "  steadfa'st  persistence  on  the  part  of 
Prussia  in  showing  no  consideration  what- 

~  1-1         Prussian  griev- 

ever   to    any    German  Government   which     ances  and 

*  warnings. 

does  not  take  pains   to  deserve  it."     This 
was  the  state  of  affairs  which  induced  him  to  declare  on 
various  occasions  within  the  year  even  of  his  arrival  at 
Frankfort  that— 

"Prince  Schwarzenberg,  not  satisfied  with  resuming  the  position 
accorded  to  the  Empire  by  the  Federal  Constitution  up  to  1848, 
desires  to  utilise  the  Revolution  (which  all  but  ruined  Austria)  as  a 
basis  for  the  realisation  of  far-seeing  plans ; " 

that— 

"  Should  the  vote  be  postponed,  or  be  given  in  the  negative,  he 
would  declare  that  Prussia  would  go  her  own  way,  even  without  the 
consent  of  those  contradictory  gentlemen ;  * 

that— 

"  If  the  Diet,  by  direct  and  reckless  enforcement  of  the  system  of 
majorities,  attempted  to  constitute  itself  into  a  Board  having  for  its 
functions  the  exercise  of  compulsion  upon  Prussia,  means  would  be 
found  to  attach  to  this  last  bond  of  German  unity  a  weight  which 
it  would  prove  incompetent  to  bear ; " 

and  that — 

"before  he  could  recommend  the  adoption  of  such  a  policy  at 
Berlin,  the  question  would  have  first  to  be  decided  by  an  appeal  to 
the  sword"  (November,  1851). 

And  now  let  us  glance  at  the  nature  of  the  Prussian 
grievances  which  thus  made  Bismarck  threaten  Austria 


172  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

with  an  appeal  to  the  sword  within  a  little  year  of  the 
time  when  he  had  affected  to  vindicate  Olmiitz,  and 
before  he  had  sat  four  months  in  the  re-galvanised  Diet. 
We  say  glance,  for  our  readers,  we  are  sure,  would  not 
thank  us  for  acting  as  the  resurrectionist  to  questions 
which  were  unlovely  enough  in  life,  and  are  now  more 
than  repulsive  with  the  long  decay  of  death.  Neverthe- 
less, a  hasty  sketch  of  their  anatomy  is  necessary  to  give 
some  idea  of  the  stifling  atmosphere  of  obstructions  and 
impossibilities  in  which  Prussia,  the  natural  head  of 
Germany,  had  to  breathe,  until  it  was  at  last  purified  by 
Bismarck  with  the  disinfecting  torch  of  war. 

Of  these  obstructions  perhaps  the  most  irritating 

was  a  formal  one,  consisting  in  the  persistence   with 

Austrian        which  Austria  sought  to  control  the  order 

-sin-register."       Qf     buginess     'm     the     Diet    itgel£          By     the 

Federal  Constitution,  Austria  had  the  presiding  seat  in 
the  Diet ;  but  between  the  occupant  of  that  seat  and 
the  Prussian  member  there  raged  a  perpetual  controversy 
as  to  the  competence  of  the  permanent  chairman.  The 
Austrian  President  was  autocratic  and  overbearing, 
while  the  Prussian  Envoy  was  ever  firm  in  his  assertion 
of  business  privileges.  Despatch  after  despatch  went  to 
Berlin  detailing  the  "  register  of  sins  " — one  of  these 
containing  thirteen  separate  items — of  the  Austrian 
President.  Violent  scenes  and  altercations — sometimes 
even  accompanied  by  the  shaking  of  angry  fists — were 
frequent.  Baron  Prokeseh*  was  the  Austrian  "  sinner  " 

*  Recapitulating  his  experience  at  Frankfort,  Bismarck  wrote  (March, 
1859)  :  "  This  state  of  things  has  been  aggravated  by  the  circumstance 


DIPLOMATIC    OAREER.  173 

who  sought  to  carry  to  the  highest  pitch  this  policy  of 
presidential  encroachment,  and  sometimes  when  severely 
castigated  by  his  Prussian  colleague  he  would  affect  to 
change  his  ways.  As  Bismarck  wrote  : — 

"  When  first  I  met  Prokesch  again  on  his  return  here,  we  were 
both  free  from  embarrassment.  The  sleek  cheerfulness  with  which  he 
was  masked  also  found  expression  in  the  colour  of  his  gloves,  which 
were  of  the  most  delicate  sky-blue  tint,  and,  for  a  wonder,  quite  new. 
It  was  just  striking  noon  (2nd  July,  1855),  and  I  casually  observed 
that  this  moment  exactly  marked  the  middle  of  the  year,  whereupon 
he  seized  me  by  the  hand  with  effusive  heartiness,  and  said  :  c  Come, 
let  us  forget  the  squabbles  and  sorrows  of  the  old  year,  and  commence 
quite  a  new  one.' " 

But  the  new  year,  which  was  to  bring  unison,  only 
served  to  swell  the  "sin-register "  of  the  domineering 
Austrians.  It  was  some  consolation  to  Bismarck  that, 
for  his  bold  and  manful  championship  of  the  rights  of 
Prussia  and  of  the  minor  States  in  matters  of  form,  the 
representatives  of  these  States  often  squeezed  his  hand 
in  silent  gratitude ;  but  that  availed  little  when  their 
dread  of  Austria's  vengeance  made  them  truckle  to  her 
on  almost  all  questions  of  substance  affecting  her 

that  Austria  has  appointed  to  the  Presidency  of  an  Assembly  in  which  her 
own  position  (as  Member  and  Presiding  Power)  is  a  very  delicate  one, 
three  men,  one  after  another  (Thun,  Prokesch,  and  Rechberg),  of  notorious 
irritability.  Neither  the  character  of  the  persons  entrusted  by  Austria 
with  the  defence  of  her  cause  in  the  Bund  against  Prussia,  nor  her  choice 
of  weapons  for  the  fray,  has  contributed  to  impart  an  amicable  and  con- 
ciliatory tone  to  the  Federal  proceedings.  There  has  been  no  lack  of 
attempts  at  outwitting  (such  as  arc  prescribed  by  the  traditions  of  diplo- 
macy for  centuries  past),  at  the  perversion  of  facts,  at  personal  calumnia- 
tion; even  falsifications  of  documents  containing  written  agreements 
between  the  different  Governments  have  been  officially  brought  home  to 
Herr  von  Prokesch." 


174  PRINCE   BISMAECK. 

relations  to  Prussia  :  "  the  reorganisation  of  the  Diet,  the 
question  of  the  German  Navy,  the  differences  in  the 
matter  of  the  Zollverein,  the  legislation  respecting  trade, 
the  Press,  the  Constitution,  the  fortresses  of  the  Bund 
at  Eastatt  and  Mayence,  the  affair  of  Neuch&tel  and  the 
Eastern  question."  *  Before,  however,  glancing  at  the 
motives  which  divided  Prussia  and  Austria  on  the  chief 
of  these  questions,  let  us  prepare  our  minds  for  the  con- 
trast by  a  picture  of  their  apparent  union  on  a  point  of 
foreign  policy. 

Bismarck  had  not  been  many  months  at  Frankfort 

when  Europe   was  startled  by  the  news  of  what  some 

denounced  as    an  enormous    public   crime, 

and  Louis        .  and  others  lauded  as  an  act  of  courage  and 

Napoleon. 

wisdom.  On  the  2nd  of  December,  1851, 
Louis  Napoleon,  President  of  the  French  Republic,  com- 
mitted his  coup  d'etat.  How  did  Bismarck  regard  it? 
Should  we  not  be  prepared  to  find  that  the  Stadivertilger, 
or  "  town-uprooter,"  as  he  had  been  called,  personally 
sympathised  with  the  man  who  had  drenched  the  streets 
of  Paris  in  the  blood  of  its  citizens  ?  Was  it  not 
natural  to  expect  that  he,  who  had '  looked  with  pain 


*  Bismarck  to  Baron  Schleinitz,  12th  May,  1859.  Says  Dr.  Busch  :— 
"  In  the  matter  of  the  Rastatt  garrison,  anent  which  Austria  took  great 
pains  to  induce  German  States,  generally  at  one  with  the  Berlin  Govern- 
ment, to  outvote  Prussia  in  the  Federal  Assembly,  Bismarck  plainly 
declared  (June,  1858)  to  Count  Rechberg,  Prokesch's  successor,  that  he 
would  request  Manteuffel  to  draw  up  a  Protocol  in  the  name  of  Prussia, 
announcing  that  '  he  regarded  the  Federal  Treaties  as  violated,'  and 
that  he  (Bismarck)  '  would  be  compelled,  until  the  receipt  of  further 
instructions,  to  refrain  from  participating  in  the  proceedings  of  the  Federal 
Assembly.'  "— "  Our  Chancellor." 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  175 

upon  the  growth,  of  parliamentary  institutions  in 
Prussia,  should  view  with  pleasure  the  gagging  of  the 
Assembly  in  France  ?  A  man  of  hold  and  sur- 
prising measures  himself,  he  warmly  admires  the 
same  qualities  in  others ;  and  there  can  he  little  douht 
that,  when  told  of  the  coup  d'etat,  he  was  thrilled  by 
the  sympathy  which  kindred  spirits  feel — kindred,  and 
yet  how  contrary  !  But  personal  feelings  are  sometimes 
incompatible  with  political  motives,  and  as  yet  Bismarck 
was  only  the  mouthpiece,  not  the  master,  of  his 
Sovereign. 

We  find  him  first  expressing  himself  on  the  sub- 
ject two  days  after  the  perpetrator  of  "the  2nd  of 
December  "  had  been  elected  President  of  the  Republic 
for  a  further  term  of  ten  years.  Austria  and  Prussia 
had  been  asked  by  Baden  to  aid  in  chastising  Switzer- 
land, by  an  occupation  of  part  of  her  Rhenish  territory, 
for  the  defiant  hospitality  she  extended  to  political 
refugees  ;  and  Bismarck  sought  to  dissuade  his  Grovern- 
ment  from  such  a  step,  "  seeing  that,  among  other 
things,  France  under  her  new  rulers  would  now  in  all 
likelihood  be  only  too  eager  to  welcome  every  provoca- 
tion to  a  war  proceeding  from  Grermany."  In  the 
following  July  Bismarck  had  an  interview  at  Wiesbaden 
with  the  King  of  the  Belgians,  who  bade  him  be  on  his 
guard  against  Louis  Napoleon,  of  whom  His  Majesty 
at  that  time  spoke  very  contemptuously,  describing 
Belgium  as  the  vanguard  of  Prussia.  It  happened  that 
when  Louis  Napoleon  got  himself  proclaimed  Emperor, 
exactly  a  year  after  the  coup  d'etat,  Bismarck  was  acting 


176 


PRINCE   BISMARCK. 


for  the  Austrian  Count  Thun,  as  President  of  the  Diet ; 
and  to  him,  therefore,  fell  the  task  of  guiding  its  de- 
liberations as  to  its  recognition  of  the  momentous 
change. 

The  incident  again  furnished  a  glaring  proof  of  how 
little  unity  there  was  in  its  counsels,  and  of  what  jarring 
interests  ifc  was  the  centre.  The  German  States  had  to 
consider  separately,  as  well  as  collectively,  whether  and 
how  they  should  recognise  the  new  French  Emperor ; 
hut  it  was  surely  natural  to  expect  that,  before  manifest- 
ing their  will  in  the  former  way,  they  should  consult  the 
inclinations  of  their  leaders.  So  thought  Bismarck ;  but 
he  was  mortified  to  find  that,  before  his  Government  had 
made  up  its  mind  on  the  subject,  the  Duchy  of  Nassau 
and  the  City  of  Frankfort — the  latter  represented  by  a 
man  swelling  with  parvenu  pride  and  lusting  after  im- 
perial orders — had  secretly  hastened  to  salute  the  new 
French  Sovereign. 

It  was  regrettable  enough,  wrote  Bismarck,  that  in  such  an 
important  matter  England  should  not  have  sought  to  act  in  concert 
with  the  rest  of  Europe  ;  but  it  was  doubly  reprehensible  in  the  two 
petty  States  above  named  to  have  given  such  lamentable  evidence  of 
the  looseness  of  the  bond  which  held  together  Germany  in  time  of 
peril. 

Ever  possessed  by  the  idea  of  national  unity,  Bis- 
marck could  have  looked  with  partial  unconcern  on  the 
domestic  disputes  that  divided  his  countrymen  if  they 
could  only  have  been  made  to  present  a  united  front  to 
the  foreigner. 

Austria  was  willing,  for  once,  to  act  in  harmony 
with  her  rival,  but  still  her  recognition  of  Napoleon  was 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  177 

not  without  an  appearance  of  indecorous  haste.  A 
French  journal  published  at  Frankfort  was  enthusiastic 
in  its  advocacy  of  the  upstart  Emperor,  and  Bismarck 
strongly  suspected  that  its  articles  emanated  from  the 
Foreign  Office  at  Vienna.  He  determined  to  have 
certitude  on  the  subject,  and  he  achieved  his  object  with 
characteristic  skill.  Conversing  one  day.  with  the  pro- 
prietor of  the  newspaper  in  question,  Baron  Brints, 
brother-in-law  of  the  Austrian  Foreign  Minister,  he 
boldly  congratulated  him  on  the  direct  relations  he 
entertained  with  Louis  Napoleon.  With  virtuous  rage 
the  worthy  Baron  repudiated  the  insinuation,  alleging  in 
his  defence  that  the  articles  referred  to  came  straight  to 
him  from  Vienna.  The  diplomacy  of  Frankfort  at  this 
time  was  not  without  its  other  detective  arts. 

"It  is  remarkable,"  wrote  Bismarck,  "that  M.  de  Tallenay  (the 
French  Ambassador)  knew  every  particular  of  our  last  meeting  half 
an  hour  after  we  rose.  The  key  to  the  mystery  is  furnished  by  the 
fact  that,  immediately  after  the  sitting  in  which  the  French  question 
first  came  forward,  I  saw  Herr  von  Beinhard  (Wiirtemberg)  leaving 
the  house  of  M.  de  Tallenay,  which  I  can  scrutinise  from  my  garden. 
On  the  same  day,  too,  Herr  von  Dalwigk  came  from  Darmstadt, 
went  to  Tallenay 's,  and  then  returned  to  the  railway." 

It  was  evidently  Bismarck's  belief  that  a  good 
diplomatist  must  use  his  eyes  as  well  as  his  ears ; 
and  does  not  Carlyle  somewhere  say  that,  for  a  hun- 
dred men  who  can  think,  there  is  not  one  that  can 
see? 

The  intricate  negotiations  as  to  the  recognition  of 
Napoleon  were  conducted  by  Bismarck  with  great 
delicacy  and  skill;  and  at  last  the  two  leading 
M 


178  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Powers  of  Germany  agreed  to  re-accredit  their  Am- 
bassadors at  Paris  on  the  condition,  expressed  in  the 
mildest  possible  form,  that  the  new  Sovereign  would 
promise  to  keep  the  peace  of  Europe  and  observe 
existing  treaties.  How  he  broke  his  word,  and  what 
he  suffered  for  doing  so,  all  the  world  knows.  The 
incident  was  closed  by  Bismarck  giving  a  grand  dress 
dinner  to  the  Imperial  representative  at  the  Diet ; 
but  still  it  left  disagreeable  traces  on  the  minds  of 
some  of  the  minor  German  States,  who  thought 
they  had  been  much  too  cavalierly  treated  in  the 
matter  by  their  powerful  chiefs. 

It  was  from  reasons  analogous  to  those  which  had 
induced  the  two  leading  Powers  of  Germany  to  extend 
their  moral  support  to  the  successful  perpetrator  of  the 
coup  d'etat  in  France,  that  they  combined 
to  undo  as  much  as  possible  of  the  work  or 


tion,  mais  le 

-^volution  m  Germany,  and  to  combat 


what  still  remained  of  its  spirit.  However 
disposed  towards  Germany  herself,  Louis  Napoleon,  as 
the  throttler  of  the  Democratic  Dragon  in  his  own 
country,  could  not  but  be  hailed  as  a  congenial  Sovereign 
by  those  two  German  Powers  whose  almost  single  bond 
of  union  was  a  desire  to  counteract  and  nullify  the 
republican  movement  of  the  time.  But  even  as  to  the 
means  of  realising  this  desire,  Austria  and  Prussia  were 
woefully  divided.  Among  other  items  of  the  Austrian 
programme  was  a  proposal  to  put  the  Press  of  the  whole 
nation  under  much  stricter  restraints. 

But,  strange  to  say,  the  full  extent  of  thi:  repressive 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  179 

policy  was  opposed  by  the  man  who,  shortly  before,  had 
declaimed  against  free  journalism  as  a  poisoned  well. 
Bismarck  had  been  grieved  to  see  Prussia  Freedom  of  ihe 
under  the  dominion  of  the  Ee volution,  but  Germanpress- 
he  was  equally  unwilling  to  see  her  in  all  things  become 
the  docile  pupil  of  Austria.  And  Austria,  he  was  firmly 
convinced,  aimed  at  forcing  on  Prussia  the  alternative 
of  refusing  to  accept  a  decision  of  the  Diet,  or  of  accept- 
ing it  and  thus  provoking  an  inevitable  conflict  between 
her  own  Government  and  Chambers.*  For  Prussia 
already  had  a  Press  Law  of  her  own ;  and  was  the  will 
of  the  Prussian  people,  in  matters  of  domestic  legisla- 
tion, to  be  subordinated  entirely  to  that  of  the  German 
Sovereigns  ?  t  "It  seemed  to  me  out  of  the  question," 

*  Despatch  of  6th  August,  1852. 

f  Bismarck  regarded  a  free  Press  (in  Prussia)  as  a  powerful  means  of 
combating  the  pretensions  of  Austria,  and  of  the  two  evils — a  domineering 
Austria  or  a  dictatorial  Press — he  looked  upon  the  latter  as  the  least.  In 
one  of  his  later  reports  he  argued  strongly  in  favour  of  free  discussion, 
both  in  Parliament  and  in  newspapers.  Other  German  Governments,  he 
said,  might  be  unable  to  make  concessions  to  the  Liberal  party.  "  But  in 
Prussia  the  King  would  remain  master,  even  if  the  whole  standing  army 
were  disbanded.  Prussia,  therefore,  can  afford,  without  injury  to  the 
authority  of  the  Government,  to  grant  a  far  larger  measure  of  political 
liberty  than  would  be  possible  in  the  rest  of  Germany."  He  called  atten- 
tion to  the  fact  that  a  deep  impression  had  been  produced  in  Germany  by 
unfettered  debates  in  the  Saxon  Chambers  on  the  proceedings  of  the  Con- 
federate Diet.  But  "  how  much  more  powerful  an  impression  would  have 
been  produced  if  similar  debates  had  taken  place  in  the  Prussian 
Chambers  !  If  Prussia  permitted  open  discussion  regarding  its  German 
policy,  regarding  its  position  in  the  Confederate  Diet,  regarding  the  diffi- 
culties which  it  has  to  overcome  there,  and  regarding  the  aims  of  its 
opponents,  probably  a  few  sittings  of  the  Prussian  Parliament  would 
suffice  to  put  an  end  to  the  pretensions  of  the  majority  in  the  Diet.  The 
misrepresentations  of  hired  newspapers  cannot  be  corrected  until  the 
Prussian  Press  obtains  full  material  for  the  consideration  of  questions 
relating  to  the  Confederate  Diet  and  the  utmost  possible  degree  of 

M    2 


180  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

wrote  Bismarck  (August,  1852),  "to  make  the  activity 
of  the  Press  and  the  book -trade  in  Prussia  dependent 
on  the  resolutions  of  other  German  Governments." 
That  was  the  key-note  of  his  contention,  and  he  suc- 
ceeded in  making  his  Government  adopt  the  view  that 
the  Diet  should  only  enact  such  general  and  uniform 
rules  against  the  abuse  of  free  writing  as  were  con- 
sistent with  the  existing  Press  laws  of  his  own  country. 
Some  slight  concessions,  however,  he  did  make, 
merely  to  avoid  the  appearance  of  selfish  indifference 
to  the  reactionary  wants  of  minor  Governments, 
and  he  subsequently  followed  the  same  line  of  action 
with  respect  to  the  suppression  of  obnoxious  or  sus- 
pected societies. 

That  he  sympathised  with  the  Revolution,  as  was 
charged  against  him  by  the  critics  of  his  opposition 
German  de-  ^°  Austria's  extreme  despotism,  there  was 
nothing  whatever  to  show  ;  but  the  remedy 
against  Revolution,  he  thought,  lay  less  with  the  Diet 
than  with  each  of  its  individual  members;  and  any 
German  State  that  proved  indulgent  to  the  spirit  of 
democracy  was  sure  to  get  the  cold  shoulder  from 
Prussia.  In  1855,  for  example,  Bismarck  drew  the 
attention  of  his  Government  to  the  scandalous  licence  of 
the  Press  in  Brunswick, 


freedom." And  again  :  "  The  Federal  policy,  which  is  pre- 
cisely and  specifically  necessary  to  Prussia,  can  only  gain  in  strength  by 
publicity  and  frank  discussion.  In  the  Press,  truth  will  not  come  to  light 
through  the  mists  conjured  up  by  the  mendacity  of  subsidised  newspapers 
until  the  material  wherewith  to  expose  all  the  mysteries  of  the  Bund  shall 
be  supplied  to  the  Prussian  Press,  with  unrestricted  liberty  to  utilise  it." 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  181 

"  which  teems  with  such  violent  attacks  against  the  German 
Sovereigns  and  their  Governments  that  I  cannot  recollect  any- 
thing of  the  kind  in  the  first  half  of  the  year  1848."  .  .  . 
"Yesterday,  on  the  subject  coming  up  in  the  Diet,  it  was  ad- 
mitted on  all  sides  that,  of  all  German  States,  the  Democracy  of 
1848  has  still  freest  play  in  the  Duchy  of  Brunswick,  and  that  no 
spontaneous  remedy  was  to  be  expected  from  such  a  Government  as 
its  present  one.  .  .  .  Brunswick's  attitude  to  us  of  late  has  certainly 
not  been  of  a  kind  calculated  to  impose  upon  us  the  duty  of  especial 
consideration  towards  it." 

It  was  from  motives  similar  to  those  which  had 
induced  him  to  stem  the  full  current  of  Austrian  reac- 
tion in  the  matter  of  the  Press  and  socio- 

Bismarck 

political  societies,  that  Bismarck  urged  SnSSffinai. 
moderation  on  the  Diet  in  seeking  to  purge 
the  Constitutions  of  the  various  States  from  principles 
opposed  to  its  own.  In  conformity  with  the  reactionary 
programme  of  the  Diet  (August,  1851),  the  Prince  of 
Lippe  had  abolished  (March,  1853)  the  Constitution 
acquired  by  his  subjects  in  1849 ;  and  it  was  significant 
of  Bismarck's  attitude  of  moderation  in  the  matter  that 
both  parties  to  the  abrogated  Charter  appealed  to  him 
for  support  of  their  respective  pleas.*  He  was  all 
the  more  ready  to  lend  his  good  offices  for  a  settlement 
of  the  quarrel,  as  not  wishing  the  Diet  to  adjudicate  on 
it  in  a  sense  degrading  to  the  Prince,  and  from  this 
humiliation  he  saved  His  Highness  by  counselling  him 

*  "  The  dissolved  Landtag,"  wrote  Bismarck,  "  intends  to  lodge  with 
the  Diet  a  protest  against  the  proceedings  of  the  Lippe  Government,  and 
for  this  purpose  has  sent  here  one  of  its  members  in  the  person  of  Assessor 
Petri,  who  has  called  on  me  and  begged  my  mediation  with  my  Govern- 
ment in  their  favour."  Soon  afterwards  the  Prince  of  Lippe  also  wrote 
to  Bismarck,  hoping  that  he  would  stand  up  for  his  interests. 


182  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

to  anticipate  the  decision  of  the  Diet  with  certain  liberal 
concessions  that  would  appease  his  subjects — which  were 
accordingly  granted. 

But   the  incident   did    not   pass  without  affording 

another  proof  of  the   persistent  way  in  which  Austria 

intrigued  against  Prussia.     It  was  mainly  on 

Alarming  col-  J 

L£Spe°sftates-       encouragement  from  Austria  that  the  Prince 
of  Lippe  had  committed  his  coup  d'etat,  but 
when  the  matter  was  brought  before  the  Diet  her  action 
was  very  different  from  her  previous  advice. 

"  I  have  already  told  you,"  wrote  Bismarck  to  his  chief,  "  of  the 
double  game  played  by  Prokesch  in  the  affair  of  Lippe.  State- 
Councillor  Fischer "  (the  reactionary  protagonist  of  the  Prince),  "  a 
portly  and  somewhat  ungainly  personage,  to  whom  I  explained  the  true 
state  of  the  case,  was  so  utterly  shocked  by  the  (Austrian)  perfidy  of 
which  he  discovered  himself  to  have  been  the  dupe,  that  he  gave 
expression  to  his  moral  indignation  in  gestures  so  violent  as  made 
him  collapse  before  my  eyes  with  the  chaise-longue  on  which  he  was 
sitting,  and  lie  stretched  "  (at  'lubber  length')  "  on  the  floor,  in  equal 
despair  of  humanity  and  of  the  solidity  of  our  joiner-work  here." 

But  the  affair  of  Lippe  was  not  more  characteristic 
of  the  play  of  intrigue  between  Austria  and  Prussia 
Bismarck  than  the  proposal  (December,  1853)  to  de- 
j°ews,bSt  hates  prive  the  Frankfort  Jews  of  their  recently- 

the  Austrians         r 

acquired  civic  rights.  Bismarck  loved  not 
the  Jews,  but  he  hated  the  Austrians  more  ;  and  as^this 
reactionary  motion  emanated  from  the  Austro-Ultramon- 
tane  party  in  Frankfort,  whose  predominance  Prussia 
had  every  reason  to  curtail,  he  sought  and  obtained  the 
permission  of  his  Government  to  thwart  their  anti- 
Semitic  aims.  But  the  delicious  part  of  the  matter 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  183 

was  that  his  successful  opposition  to  the  Austro-Catholic 
faction  in  the  Free  City  was,  to  his  utter  astonishment, 
supported  by  his  Austrian  colleague,  Baron  Prokesch, 
"  from  which  I  infer  that  the  house  of  Rothschild  at 
the  present  time  has  more  importance  for  Austria  than 
the  Frankfort  patricians." 

How  little  he  thought  Austria  was  entitled  to  tender 
consideration  on  the  part  of  Prussia  he  had  shown  in 
the  spring  of  1853,  by  opposing  the  motion  of  Hesse 
(Grand  Duchy)  that  England  should  be  seriously  asked 
to  provide  against  abuse  of  the  privilege  of  .  . 
asylum  extended  by  her  to  political  refugees. 


Prussia  herself,  he  said,  had  not  much  to 
fear  from  the  foreign  agitation  of  such  characters,  and 
petty  States  like  Hesse  had  no  business  to  take  the 
initiative  in  such  important  European  questions  without 
consulting  the  two  leading  German  Powers.  By  com- 
plying with  the  request  of  Hesse,  Prussia  would  only 
please  Austria  at  the  risk  of  offending  England,  and  no 
return  service  was  to  be  expected  from  a  Power  — 
Austria  —  "  with  whom  it  is  not  usual  to  do  anything 
pour  nos  beaux  yeux"  One  cannot  consider  Bismarck's 
attitude  to  these  questions  without  thinking  of  the 
Puritans  who  hated  bear-baiting  —  not  so  much  because 
it  gave  pain  to  the  bear,  as  because  it  gave  pleasure  to 
the  spectators. 

Characteristic  of  the  relations  between  Austria  and 
Prussia  was  their  attitude  to  the  question  of  the 
North-Sea  Fleet  —  "  a  question/'  to  use  the  words  of 
Bismarck,  "  with  which  the  Diet  wrestled  for  almost 


184  FRINGE   BISMARCK 

a  whole  year  to  its  own  utter  exhaustion."  Under 
pressure  of  the  Revolution,  which  it  was  expected  would 
The  National  &ve  birth  to  the  Empire,  the  German 

Fleet  question.       govereigns    ^     I84g    had     made    ft    show    Q£ 

clubbing  together,  so  to  speak,  for  a  navy  which  should 
defend  the  naissant  Empire's  coasts,  and  there  was 
actually  called  into  existence  an  infant  fleet  consisting 
of  a  few  wretchedly-manned  vessels.*  But  what  to  do 
with  this  toy  armada,  after  its  raison  d'etre  had  failed 
to  be  realised,  was  the  burning  question  which  vexed 
the  Grerman  mind.  Was  it  indispensable  to  the  nation  ? 
"Was  it  the  property  of  the  Bund,  and  if  not,  should  it 
be  declared  to  be  such  ?  Who  was  bound  to  pay  for  its 
maintenance  ?  But  above  all  things,  to  what  authority 
did  it  owe  obedience?  "Austria,"  as  Bismarck  wrote 
at  a  later  stage  of  the  controversy,  "  aimed  at  acquiring 
direct  or  indirect  power  over  the  fleet,  without  having 
made  any  pecuniary  sacrifices  for  it  either  in  the  past  or 
for  the  future." 

But  Prussia,  to  whom  it  mainly  owed  its  existence, 

could  naturally  never  submit  to  that ;  and  the  quarrel 

became  acute  when  Bismarck  proposed,  as  a  preliminary 

to  the   settlement  of  every  other  question 

the  Roth-          connected  with  it,  that  all  arrears  of  quotas 

schiids. 

which  had  been  promised  for  its  support 
should  be  paid  up.  And  now  all  the  contrary  winds 
of  raging  controversy  began  to  rush  from  the 


*  The  North-Sea  Fleet  consisted  of  two  sailing  frigates,  three  steam 
ditto,  six  steam-corvettes,  twenty-seven  gunboats,  one  transport  vessel, 
and  900  men  I 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  185 

cave  of  the  Diet,  and  mountains  of  despatches,  protests, 
reports  and  protocols  were  piled  up.  Sometimes 
Austria  affected  to  side  with  Prussia,  and  again  she 
would  veer  round  and  head  the  phalanx  of  the  petty 
States.  At  length  the  Diet  resolved  to  cover  all  past 
naval  outlay  and  arrears  by  a  loan  from  Rothschild 
on  the  security,  if  need  be,  of  the  federal  moneys  in  the 
hands  of  that  banker  ;  but  Bismarck  protested  against 
this  decision  as  being  ultra  vires,  while  intimating  to 
Eothschild  that,  if  he  advanced  to  the  Diet  cash  which 
had  been  "  deposited  with  him  for  purposes  defined  by 
treaty,"  he  would  do  so  at  his  own  risk  and  peril.  It 
was  to  no  purpose  that  Count  Thun,  "  in  great  excite- 
ment, denounced  this  protest  as  an  insult  to  the  whole 
Diet  and  a  defiance  of  its  decisions."  Prussia  remained 
firm,  for  the  principle  at  stake  was  a  vital  one. 

Bismarck's  contention  was  that  any  resolution  about 
the  fleet,  which  was  not  an  "  organic  institution/' 
required  to  be  unanimous;  while  the  Austrians  would 
have  it  that,  in  cases  of  disputed  or  doubtful  com- 
petence, a  majority  of  the  Diet  itself 


must    decide    the    point.      From    this    it     hound, 

art  not  sound  F 

followed  that  Austria,  Prussia,  and  the 
other  Kingdoms  —  with  an  aggregate  of  seven  votes  — 
might  be  outvoiced  by  the  "  Dwarf-States  "  possessing 
eight  ;  or  that  the  pettiest  member  of  the  Bund  might 
successfully  oppose  his  veto  to  the  decision  of  all  the 
others.  This  formal  deadlock,  to  which  the  Diet  was 
brought  by  its  treatment  of  the  fleet  question,  was  well 
calculated  to  show  on  what  an  impossible  basis  it  had 


186  PRINCE  SISMAROK. 

been  re-constructed  —  and  to  justify  Bismarck's  remark 
"  that  Heine's  well-known  song,  '  0  Bund,  Du  Hand, 
Du  bist  nicht  gesund,  8fc.'  ('0  Bund,  thou  hound, 
Thou  art  not  sound  '),  would  soon  be  adopted  by  unani- 
mous resolve  as  the  national  anthem  of  the  Germans/' 

But  under  this  vital  question  of  form  there  also 
lurked  an  equally  vital  one  of  substance  for  Prussia, 
seeing  that  it  was  the  aim  of  Austria  to  draw  the  fleet 
within  the  sphere  of  her  own  exclusive  influence  at  the 
Diet.  Nor  did  the  proposal  that  Austria  should  com- 
mand in  the  Mediterranean,  Prussia  in  the  Baltic,  and 
the  other  States  in  the  German  Ocean,  result  in  any- 
thing but  proof  of  the  lamentable  fact  that  within 
scarcely  a  year  of  Olmiitz,  the  old  conflicting  tendencies 
of  an  Austrian  "Grand  Germany,"  of  a  "restricted 
(Prussian)  Union/'  and  a  Middle-State  "  Trias,5'  again 
manifested  themselves  in  the  Diet  with  redoubled  force. 
A  final  attempt  was  made  to  combine  the  North- 
Western  States  for  the  maintenance  of  the  fleet;  but 
these  States,  with  Hanover  at  their  head,  were  too  weak 
to  do  the  thing  themselves,  yet  too  jealously  proud  to  do 
it  under  Prussia.  "  With  the  fleet,"  wrote  Bismarck  of 
his  Hanoverian  colleague,  "  he  would  have  nothing 
more  to  do,  even  if  Neptune  himself  were  to  join  the 
proposed  Union  (for  its  maintenance)." 

Nothing  could  better  illustrate  the  deplorable  spirit 
of  disunion,  which  then  divided  the  Sove- 

Bismarck  and  .  „    ~  ,  , 

reign  s  ot  Germany,  than  the  circumstance 


that   their   rancorous  squabbles  about   the 
national  navy  finally  resulted  in  a  decision  to  prevent  its 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  187 

becoming  the  cause  of  sanguinary  discord  by  handing 
it  over  to  the  hammer  of  the  auctioneer ;  and  the  last 
we  hear  of  this  first  abortive  symbol  of  German  unity 
is  the  sorrowful  mention  by  Bismarck  of  an  "  apothecary 
at  Bremen  "  who  had  "  impounded  naval  stores  to  the 
value  of  ninety  thalers,  his  wage  for  the  rubbing  out  of 
ink  spots." 

But  divergent  as   were   the   aims   of  Austria   and 
Prussia  with  respect  to  the  naval  defence  of  the  nation, 
the    question  of  its  commercial  policy  re- 
vealed a  still  greater  discrepancy  between     t&e"™*. 
these  two  Powers.     In  the  course  of  a  con- 
versation   on    the   latter    subject    (Nov.,    1851)    Count 
Thun  compared  Prussia  with  a  man  who  had  once  won 
100,000  thalers  in   a   lottery,   and   then   cast   up   his 
domestic   accounts    on   the    assumption   that   his   luck 
would   be   repeated   every  year.      To  which  Bismarck 
replied  that,  "if  these  ideas   (of  the  Count)   were  also 
entertained  at  Vienna,  he  foresaw  that  Prussia  would 
again  have  to  try  the  lottery  referred  to  (i.e.,  war),  and 
whether  or  not  she  drew  another  prize  would  rest  with 
God." 

On  Baron  Nell  (one  of  the  Austrians  at  the  Diet) 
hearing  of  the  death  of  the  King  of  Hanover,  Ernest 
August  (18th  November,  1851),  he  exclaimed  in  high 
spirits,  "  Now  we  have  won  the  game !  " 

TV        *»_  •  •  rru  »     The  commercial 

But  this  was  premature  ioy.      Ihe     game      leadership  of 

J    J  &  Germany. 

referred  to  was  the  commercial  leadership 

of  Germany,  and  this  particular  kind  of  hegemony  had 

hitherto  been  in  the  hands  of  Prussia,  though  Austria 


188  PRINOE   BISMARCK. 

now  began  to  make  desperate  endeavours  to  wrest  it 
from  her  rival.  This  commercial  predominance  of 
Prussia  dated  from  the  year  1834,  when  eighteen 
German  States — whose  example  was  gradually  followed 
by  others,  but  not  by  Austria — grouped  themselves 
around  the  great  Northern  Power  into  a  Zollverein,  or 
Customs-Union.  Abolishing,  as  it  did,  all  import  duties 
on  its  inner  frontiers,  and  only  raising  taxes  for  the 
common  weal  on  its  outer  perimeter,  this  Customs  - 
Union  was  the  first  approach  made  by  the  nation 
towards  that  political  unity  for  which  it  had  so  long 
been  sighing ;  and  the  fact  that  Prussia  stood  in  the 
van  of  this  line  of  advance  was  for  Austria  sufficient 
motive  to  seek  to  oust  her  from  her  position  of  light  and 
leading.  It  was,  therefore,  Prince  Schwarzenberg's 
dearest  aim  to  transfer  the  control  of  the  Zollverein 
from  Prussia  to  the  Diet,  or,  in  other  words,  to  the 
Cabinet  of  Vienna ;  but  both  he  and  his  successor, 
Count  Buol,  were  given  by  Bismarck  to  understand  that 
Prussia  looked  upon  the  Bund  "  as  a  purely  police  and 
military  institution,"  and  would  tolerate  no  extension 
of  its  functions  in  the  direction  desired. 

Austria,  however,  was  not  to  be  so  easily  baulked  of 
her  purpose,  and  what  she  could  not  batter  she  cast  about 
to  sap.  If  she  failed  to  prevail  on  Prussia  to  admit  her, 
The  customs-  on  ^er  own  terms,  ^°  ^ne  Customs-Union 

Union  question.    i]Q    which    ^     ^^    ^^     ^     become     ^ 

dominant  factor,  she  could  at  least  endeavour  to  detach 
from  Prussia  some  of  her  commercial  allies,  and  estab- 
lish with  theo)  a  rival  Duties  League  as  the  nucleus  of 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  189 

a  Zollverein,  under  Austrian  leadership,  embracing  all 
Germany.  Side  by  side  with  the  Prussian  Zollverein 
there  existed  a  similar  League  under  Hanover,  which 
was  called  for  distinction's  sake  the  Steuerverein ;  * 
and,  penetrating  the  designs  of  her  rival,  Prussia  had 
taken  the  precaution  (September,  1851)  to  conclude- a 
treaty  with  Hanover  which  virtually  provided  for  the 
fusion  of  these  two  Customs-Unions  at  the  beginning  of 
the  year  1854.  At  the  same  time  she  invited  her  com- 
mercial allies  to  Berlin  to  discuss  the  re-constitution  of 
the  Zollverein  on  the  basis  of  her  agreement  with 
Hanover. 

But    the    sensibilities  of   some    of    these    allies — 
especially  those  of  the  South — were  ruffled  by  the  secret 
and  independent  manner  in  which  Prussia  had  come  to 
terms  with  Hanover ;   and,   quick  to  profit 
by  their  resentment,  Austria  issued  counter    "bosses "the 

•>  .  Press. 

invitations  to  a  grand  previous  palaver  of  a 
similar  character  at  Vienna.  Prussia  declined  to  go ; 
and  her  refusal  was  the  signal  for  her  rival  to  com- 
mence negotiations  with  Saxony  and  the  Southern  States 
with  the  view  of  forming  a  new  Zollverein  that  should 
not  include  Prussia.  From  a  political  point  of  view 
these  States,  which  banded  themselves  together  into 
what  was  called  the  "Darmstadt  Coalition,"  were  in- 
clined to  listen  to  the  proposals  of  the  Vienna  Cabinet ; 

*  The  members  of  this  Steuerverein  were  Hanover,  Oldenburg,  Bruns- 
wick, and  Lippe.  The  word  Zoll  generally  means  "  customs -duty,"  and 
fitfewer,  "  tax  "  of  an  inland-revenue  kind;  but  both  the  Zoll-  and  the 
Steuer-verein  had  for  their  main  objects  the  levying  of  frontier  or  import 
dues. 


190  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

but,  on  the  other  hand,  their  purely  commercial  in- 
terests prompted  them  to  cleave  to  Prussia ;  and  the 
tendency  of  the  Governments  in  this  respect  was 
strengthened  by  a  popular  agitation  which  Bismarck 
did  everything  he  could  to  intensify  and  fan.  Indeed, 
most  of  his  despatches  during  this  period  do  little 
else  than  record  his  endeavours  to  "  boss  "  and 
"  nobble  "  the  Press  of  South  Germany,  and  otherwise 
to  create  sympathy  for  Prussia  in  the  breast  of  the 
South.* 

We   cannot   detail  the   intricate   negotiations   and 

intrigues  which  followed.     We  will    content  ourselves 

with  saying  that  their  outcome  was  a  demand  on  the 

part  of  the   "  Darmstadt  Coalition "  for  a 

stadtcoaii-         complete    German   Customs- Union   on  the 

tion."  / 

basis  of  a  preliminary  treaty  of  commerce 
with  Austria ;  while  Prussia  who,  as  compared  with  her 
rival,  tended  more  towards  free-trade  practice,  stipulated 
as  a  condition  precedent  of  a  trade-convention  with 
Austria  that  the  Customs-Union  under  her  own  com- 
mercial flag  should  first  be  reconstituted  on  the 
principle  of  her  (September)  agreement  with  Hanover. 
This  was  the  vital  question  of  priority  which  agitated 
all  Germany  in  those  discordant  days,  but  nothing 
would  induce  Prussia  to  yield,  and  Bismarck  had  an 
opportunity  of  dwelling  on  her  determination  to  hold 
her  ground  when,  in  the  summer  of  1852  (8th  June  to 
7th  July),  he  was  sent  to  Vienna  to  act  for  a  few 

*By  establishing,  for  example,   a  connection  between  the  learned, 
scientific,  and  statistical  societies  of  Berlin  and  the  southern  capitals. 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  191 

weeks  as  the  substitute  of  Count  Arnim,  the  regular 
Ambassador.* 

In  his  despatches  from  Vienna  we  are  presented  with 
some  masterly  character  -sketches  of  society     Bismarck  in 

Vienna  ;  Win- 


.  T  •  i    i  i     t   •  i  •  t 

in  that  capital  ;  and  his  reception  by  non- 

J  Bach,  and 

official  circles,  at  least,  was  cordial  beyond     BuoL 

his    expectations.      To    a    certain   extent,   indeed,   he 

was  even  lionised. 

"  Field-marshal  Prince  Windischgr'atz,  on  entering  the  drawing- 
room,  placed  me  under  embargo  the  whole  evening  ;  and  spoke  with 
the  greatest  friendship  and  appreciation  of  everything  Prussian  ; 
which  is,  indeed,  also  said  to  be  the  feelings  of  the  Mgher  military 
element  about  the  Emperor.  .  .  ."  "  By  the  whole  entourage  of 
his  Majesty  I  have  been  very  kindly  received  ;  and  it  is  only  Bach  " 
(Minister  of  the  Interior)  "who  regards  me  with  ill-concealed 
aversion  ;  n 

which  would  have  been  less  surprising  on  the  part  of 
Bach  had  he  been  able  to  scan  his  own  portrait  as 
painted  for  the  benefit  of  Herr  von  Manteuffel  by  the 

*  This  was  not  the  Count  Arnim  who  afterwards  became  the  rival  of 
Bismarck.  In  an  editorial  note  Jlerr  von  Poschinger  says  :  —  "  It  is 
incorrect  to  assume  that  Bismarck's  mission  to  the  Court  of  Vienna 
resulted  from  a  desire  on  the  part  of  Prussia  to  conclude  a  separate  agree- 
ment with  Austria  apart  from  the  middle  States,  as  was  afterwards 
actually  done.  The  King's  true  motive  for  sending  him  was  his  wish  to 
give  Herr  von  Bismarck  the  benefit  of  some  preliminary  training  as  an 
ambassador  before  making  him  a  minister."  On  June  10th  Bismarck 
wrote  to  Herr  von  Manteuffel  from  Vienna  :  "  I  announce  to  your  Excel- 
lency that  I  arrived  here  on  the  evening  of  the  day  before  yesterday.  I 
went  immediately  on  my  arrival  to  Count  Arnim,  and  handed  to  him  the 
despatches  directed  to  him.  He  was  already  in  bed,  and  thought  that  I 
had  come  as  a  traveller  ;  the  news  that  I  had  been  sent  to  act  as  his  substi- 
tute surprised  him,  and  he  thought  the  arrangement  unusual  —  the  more  so 
as  there  was  nothing  to  do  here." 


192  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

object  of  his  hatred.*  Count  Buol,  Prince  Schwarzen- 
berg's  successor,  Bismarck  found  to  be — 

"  incredibly  ignorant  of  German  affairs,  and  it  is  his  irresolution  and 
embarrassment  springing  from  this  cause  which  have  procured  him  a 
name  for  a  forbidding,  Anglo-maniac  stiffness.  .  .  •  .  But  even  he 
is  now  less  buttoned  up  towards  me  than  when  we  first  met ; " 

and  yet  Bismarck  was  inclined  to  suspect  Buol  of  having 
intrigued  to  retard  his  presentation  to  the  Emperor,  for 
whom  he  was  the  bearer  of  an  autograph  letter  from  his 
own  Sovereign. 

At  length,  after  waiting  more  than  a  fortnight, 

"during  which  time  a  certain  lack  of  cordiality"  (on  the  part  of 
Austrian  officialism)  "  had  compelled  me  also  to  avoid  the  appearance 
of  empressement" 

*  "Bach,"  wrote  Bismarck  to  his  chief,  "Bach  was  to  Schwarzenberg 
what  the  Moor  was  to  Fiesco.  He  tries  to  play  the  cavalier,  affects  a  non- 
chalant demeanour,  and  makes  the  dinner  company  wait  five  minutes 
before  rising  until,  with  noisy  ostentation,  he  has  rinsed  out  and  gargled  his 
mouth.  Great  is  the  hatred  of  the  aristocracy  and  the  military  party 
against  Bach,  so  much  so  that  it  overcomes  the  prudence  with  which 
conversation  is  otherwise  carried  on.  It  is  only  the  Emperor's  name  and 
his  own  office  which  shield  him  from  treatment  like  that  offered  to  Pillers- 
dorf  (a  March  Minister)  by  General  Hardegg,  who  said  before  witnesses  in  a 
distinguished  salon  :  '  How  can  a  scoundrel  like  you  have  the  face  to  come 
into  the  same  drawing-room  with  me  ?  It  is  only  respect  for  the  ladies  that 
keeps  me  from  spitting  on  you,  but  out  with  you  ! '  And  out  he  went.  By 
the  haute  voUe  here  Bach  is  neither  tolerated  nor  invited.  I  know  not 
whether  it  is  hatred  or  truth  which  makes  people  describe  him  as  the 
banner-bearer  and  bellows-blower  of  anti-Prussian  fury."  And  again : 
"  The  leaders  of  the  party  hostile  to  us,  especially  in  the  field  of  commercial 
politics,  are  pointed  out  to  me  as  the  '  Jews'  clique ' — Bach,  Hock,  and 
newspaper  writers — founded  by  the  deceased  Prime  Minister  (Schwarzen- 
berg), although  Bach  is  not  a  Jew.  So  that  I  consider  it  all  the  more 
desirable  to'  form  acquaintances  in  military  circles  in  the  immediate 
vicinity  of  the  Emperor." 


DIPLOMATIC    OAREER.  193 

Bismarck  was  graciously  enough  received  at  Ofen  (Buda) 
by  the  youthful  Francis  Joseph 

Bismarck  and 

"whose   personality  makes    a  very  good   impression      Joseph! 
on  me.     He  is  quick  of  apprehension,  has  a  safe  and 
circumspect  manner  of  judging,  with  a  simplicity  and  openness  of 
demeanour  that  beget  confidence." 

The  Kaiser,  wearing  a  Prussian  uniform,  did  Bis- 
marck the  rare  honour  of  receiving  him  alone.*  Their 
conversation  was  rich  in  mutual  assurances  of  a  desire  to 
see  a  harmonious  co-operation,  in  all  matters  of  Grerman 
policy,  established  between  the  Courts  of  Vienna  and 
Berlin ;  and  at  dinner  even  the  Emperor  whispered  to 
his  guest  that,  in  the  hope  that  King  Frederick  William 
would  imitate  his  example,  he  had  commanded  his 
ministers  to  put  an  end  to  the  unseemly  attacks  against 
Prussia  in  the  Austrian  Press.  But  that  was  all.  On 
the  Zollverein  question  Bismarck  was  as  firm  as  Francis 
Joseph.  The  Emperor  avowed  his  intention  to  adhere 
to  the  programme  of  Customs-Unity  for  the  whole 
nation ;  while  Bismarck  declared  that  Austria,  with  her 
peculiar  tariffs,  would  have  meanwhile  to  content  herself 
with  being  left  out  of  this  Union.  The  Zollverein,  he 
said,  must  first  be  reconstructed  under  Prussia,  who 
would  then  be  ready  to  conclude  with  Austria  a  trading- 
treaty  which  should  serve  as  a  means  of  paving  the 
way  for  the  gradual  admittance  of  the  Kaiser- State  into 
the  great  commercial  fold  of  the  nation. 

The  Vienna  Press  wondered  why  Prussia  had  not 

*  That  is,  without  tne  accompanying  presence,  as  was  usual,  of  the 
Foreign  Miniato? , 


194  PRINCE   BISMAHCK. 

sent  an  older  and  more  experienced  diplomatist  to 
"  effect  a  reconciliation  with  Austria ; "  while,  on 
A  Prussian  ^ne  °^ner  hand,  tis  attention  was  indirectly 
drawn  in  high  official  quarters  to  the  danger 
which  threatened  his  diplomatic  reputation,  and  to  the 
prospect  of  Austrian  and  other  grand-crosses  in  the 
event  of  his  making  a  favourable  arrangement.  "  In 
the  face  of  such  temptations,"  wrote  Bismarck,  "  I 
cannot  but  compare  myself  with  that  Eoman — Fabri- 
cius,  if  I  mistake  not — under  the  threats  and  allurements 
of  Pyrrhus."  *  And  like  Fabricius,  he  remained  firm. 

"  When  in  Vienna,"  he  wrote  on  returning  to  Frankfort,  "  I  did 
all  I  could  to  render  the  relations  between  the  two  Cabinets  as 
friendly  as  possible — without,  however,  yielding  anything  in  the 
matter  of  the  Zollverein."  .  .  .  "  All  the  representatives  of  German 
States  resident  here,"  he  had  written  from  Vienna,  "  were  waiting  in 
the  ante-chamber  of  Count  Buol,  in  evident  eagerness  about  the 
result  of  our  interview,  and  besieged  me  on  coming  out  with  ques- 
tions which  I  could  not"  (i.e.,  would  not)  "answer,  but  from  which 
I  clearly  gathered  that  their  Governments  will  probably  neither 
approve  nor  share  the  decided  attitude  taken  up  by  Count  BuoL" 

He   was    quite    right.      But    why   detail   the    dry 
negotiations  which  proved  the  justness  of  his  forecast  ? 

*  •'  Cains  Fabricins,"  writes  Dr.  Smith  ("  Classical  Dictionary  "),  "  was 
one  of  the  most  popular  heroes  in  the  Roman  annals.  He  was  consul  B.C. 
282,  and  two  years  afterwards  was  one  of  the  Roman  ambassadors  sent  to 
Pyrrhus  at  Tarentum  to  negotiate  a  ransom  or  exchange  of  prisoners. 
Pyrrhus  used  every  effort  to  gain  the  favour  of  Fabricius ;  but  the  sturdy 
Roman  was  proof  against  all  his  seductions,  and  rejected  all  his  offers.  In 
278  Fabricius  was  consul  a  second  time,  when  he  sent  back  to  Pyrrhus  the 
traitor  who  had  offered  to  poison  him.  Negotiations  were  then  opened,  which 

resulted  in  the  evacuation  of  Italy  by  Pyrrhus Fabricius  died  as 

poor  as  he  had  lived,  and  left  no  dowry  for  his  daughters,  which  the  senate 
furnished." 


DIPLOMATIC    CAHEER.  195 

On  the  crisis  becoming  acute,  Austria  perceived  that, 
after  all,  it  would  be  impossible  for  her  to  create  a 
Customs -Union  that  did  not  include  Prussia; 

A  Prussian 

and  on  the  Eastern  horizon  there  were  now  JS^p'artMan 
beginning  to  loom  up  events  which  induced 
Austria  to  relapse  for  the  time  being  into  the  state  of 
mind  described  by  Bismarck  when  he  wrote  that  "up 
to  the  year  1848  Austria  allowed  Prussian  policy  to 
prevail  throughout  Germany,  in  return  for  Prussia's 
support  on  all  European  questions."  It  would  seem  to 
have  been  mainly  the  necessity  for  reverting  to  this 
give-and-take  arrangement  that  compelled  Austria  to 
yield  the  ground  to  her  rival  in  the  matter  of  the 
Customs-Union,  which  was  accordingly  re-constructed 
in  April,  1853,  on  the  understanding — embodied  in  a 
commercial  treaty  between  the  two  leading  Powers — 
that  the  question  of  Austria's  admittance  to  it  would 
be  taken  up  half  a  dozen  years  later  (1859).  Prussia 
meanwhile  thus  remained  mistress  of  the  commercial 
field,  and  Bismarck  counselled  his  Government  to  work 
for  the  dismissal  of  "  Coalition  "  Ministers  like  Beust 
(Saxony)  and  Dalwigk  (Hesse-Darmstadt),  "  so  as  thus 
to  impress  the  public  mind  with  the  reality  of  our 
victory,  and  increase  our  future  influence  in  Germany." 
His  Government,  however,  content  with  the  results 
already  achieved,  displayed  no  great  desire  to  pursue  the 
enemy  which  he  had  done  so  much  to  overthrow. 

But  what  was  the  nature  of  the  cloud,  looming  up  on 
the  Eastern  horizon,    which  had  induced   Austria   to 
bid  for  the  support  of  her  rival  in  her  foreign  policy  by 
N  2 


196  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

making   concessions   to   her   in   the  field   of  domestic 
affairs  ?  * 

"  Celte  politique  va  vous  conduire  a  Jena"  haughtily 

remarked   the   French   Ambassador   at   Berlin,   M.    le 

Marquis    de   Moustier,    to   Herr   von    Bis- 

Bismarck 

marck,  in  the  spring  of  1855.  "  Pourquoipas 
a  Leipsic  ou  a  Waterloo  ?  "  replied  the  latter, 
with  a  lofty  look,  which  caused  Monsieur  le  Marquis  to 
complain  to  the  King,  but  unavailingly,  of  the  arrogant 
rudeness  of  his  Frankfort  Envoy.  Who,  in  Heaven's 
name,  was  Herr  von  Bismarck,  that  he  should  dare  to 
speak  to  an  Ambassador  of  Imperial  France  in  this 
way?  The  policy  referred  to  by  the  Marquis  de 
Moustier  was  the  attitude  of  Prussia  to  the  Crimean 
war,  a  subject  which  mostly  engaged  the  pen  of  the 
Prussian  member  of  the  Diet  between  the  end  of  1853 
and  the  spring  of  1856.  The  first  impression  produced 
by  a  perusal  of  his  remarkable  despatches  on  this  ques- 
tion is  that  they,  so  to  say,  give  a  vividly  clear  picture 
of  the  confusion  then  prevailing  in  the  councils  and 
interests  of  the  German  States.  But  they  also  elucidate 
the  motives  which  shaped  the  Eastern  policy  of  Prussia 
— a  policy  which  was  severely  criticised  in  proportion  as 
it  was  misunderstood,  and  it  was  nowhere  more  mis- 
apprehended than  in  England.  Bismarck,  it  is  true, 
then  only  occupied  a  comparatively  subordinate  position 
in  the  service  of  his  Sovereign.  He  was  as  yet  more 

*  The  following  sketch  of  Bismarck's  attitude  to  the  Crimean  War 
(as  well  as  one  or  two  other  paragraphs  in  this  chapter),  is  reprinted,  with 
permission,  from  The  Times. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  197 

the  interpreter  than  the  initiator  of  his  actions.  But 
still  his  opinions  had  great  weight  with  his  superiors, 
and  even  where  he  had  no  determining  influence  on  the 
will  of  the  Crown,  it  is  interesting  to  trace  the  germs  of 
his  later  public  acts  in  the  private  views  he  then  held. 

More  indifferent  than  the  attitude  of  Holland  to  the 
Austrian  War  of  Succession   (so  humorously  described 
by    Carlyle)    was   that   of    Prussia   to  "the     The  "heavy- 
Crimean  War.     By  strong   pulleying  and     Dutch  and  the 

J  J  practical  Prus- 

other  drastic  means  the  heavy-bottomed  sianSi 
Dutch  were  at  last  hoisted  to  their  feet,  though  "  still 
in  a  staggering,  splay-footed  posture  ;  "  but  by  no 
ingenuity  of  diplomatic  leverage  could  the  Western 
Powers,  in  1854,  succeed  in  stirring  up  the  Prussians, 
most  practical  of  nations,  to  warlike  action.  More 
exasperating  by  far  than  crass  Batavian  lethargy  was 
their  "  torpid  response  to  Her  Britannic  Majesty's. 
enthusiasm  ;  "  down  again  they  flopped  as  low  as  ever, 
after,  by  immense  exertions,  they  had  been  raised  a  few 
inches  ;  stonily  did  they  remain  unmoved  by  "  our 
double-quick  Britannic  heroism,  which  had  to  drop 
dead  inconsequence." 

That  peculiar  institution  called  the  European  Con- 
cert —  the  offspring  of  steam  and  telegraphy,  at  once  the 
germ  and  only  possible  full-growth  of  a 


millennial  court  of  international  arbitration     ofrthe 

pean  Concert. 

—  had  not  yet   sprung  into   existence.    Yet 
the  Crimean  War  witnessed  its  birth-throes,  and  was  all 
but  obviated  by  its  infant  efforts.     Hitherto  the  public 
enemies  of  Europe  had  been  coerced  by  the  armies  gf 


198  PRINCE   BISMAROK. 

one  Power,  or  by  the  united  armies  of  several ;  but  now 
a  serious  attempt  was  made  to  anticipate  and  achieve 
the  work  of  war  by  substituting  diplomatic  concert  for 
military  coalition,  or  moral  for  physical  force.  And  but 
for  the  backwardness  of  the  German  Powers,  especially 
Prussia,  there  is  little  doubt  that  the  effort  would  have 
been  successful.  It  is  singular  that  the  statesman,  who 
may  now  be  called  the  diplomatic  bandmaster  of  Europe, 
was  one  of  the  chief  creators  of  the  discord  which  then 
prevailed  among  the  Powers.  It  is  true,  the  part  he  as 
yet  played  in  the  international  orchestra  was  a  subordi- 
nate one;  but,  still,  the  jarring  strains  of  his  single 
instrument  did  much  to  mar  the  general  harmony. 

The  line  of  action  pursued  by  Prussia  with  respect 
to  the  Eastern  Question  was  not  straight ;  it  was,  in- 
deed, very  tortuous,  but  still  it  was  not  the 
th°EastSn        devious  track  of  a  rudderless  ship  or  of  a 

Question. 

State  which  had  lost  its  way.  She  well 
knew  whence  she  started  and  whither  she  was  bound, 
and  she  was  mainly  guided  by  two  great  political  land- 
marks— a  desire,  on  the  one  hand,  not  to  offend  Eussia, 
and  a  determination  on  the  other  not  to  be  the  humble 
and  obedient  slave  of  Austria.*  The  two  motives  were 


*  Says  Herr  (Kreuz-Zeitung)  Wagener,  in  his  Memoirs,  with  reference 
to  a  powerful  speech  he  himself  once  delivered  in  the  Chamber  on  the  subject 
of  Prussia's  attitude  to  the  Crimean  War  :  "  The  Conservative  party  was 
by  no  means  then  guided  by  a  blind  prejudice  in  favour  of  Russia,  but — 
to  put  it  briefly — we  were  already  Bismarck  politicians,  and  acted  on  the 
assumption  that  Russia  was  at  any  rate  not  our  worst  and  nearest  foe,  and 
that  we  could  do  nothing  more  foolish  than  elevate  and  strengthen  the 
so -called  Western  Powers  at  the  expense  of  Russia."  And  in  his  "  PolitiJc 
Friedrich  WUhelrn  IF.,"  the  same  well-informed  writer  says:  "  The 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  199 

closely  related,  though  to  Bismarck  only,  and  those  who 
thought  exactly  like  him,  was  the  connection  quite  clear. 
The  King  was  unwilling  to  break  with  Russia,  mainly 
for  the  sake  of  the  past;  to  Bismarck  the  past  was 
nothing  compared  with  the  future,  and  he  already  fore- 
saw that  the  benevolent  neutrality  of  her  neighbours 
was  what  Prussia  at  no  distant  date  would  sorely 
require.  For  if  anything  is  clear  from  his  Frankfort 
despatches,  it  is  this—  that  there  is  a  perfect  unity  of 
thought  and  action  running  through  them  all,  and  that 
they  only,  so  to  say,  form  the  first  chapter  of  a  fasci- 
nating work  of  art  whereof  the  author,  unlike  some 
writers  of  romance  and  even  of  history,  had  constructed 
a  rough  draft  in  his  own  large  head  before  putting  pen 
to  paper.  There  was  much  more  in  what  Herr  von 
Bismarck  said  to  the  Marquis  de  Moustier  than  the 
latter  dreamed.  For,  in  truth,  the  Prussian  Junker 
was  already  maturing  those  plans  of  action  which  should 
conduct  Prussia  to  another  Leipzig  and  another  Waterloo, 
to  a  Sadowa  and  to  a  Sedan. 

On  the  Western  Powers  virtually  finding  themselves 
at  war  with  Russia,  Austria,  who  was  eager 
to  join  the  former,   endeavoured  to  mould 


the  Diet  to  her  views  and  wishes  ;    but  she 

found  Prussia  intractable,  and  the  other  States  timid. 


motives  which  ultimately  shaped  our  policy  of  non-intervention  were  the 
memory  of  our  old  companionship  in  arms  with  Russia  against  the  Napo- 
leonic France,  as  well  as  of  the  traditions  of  the  Holy  Alliance,  together 
with  a  recollection  of  the  iron  egoism  of  England,  of  which  Prussia,  in 
the  course  of  her  development,  had  unfortunately  received  but  too  many 
proofs  "  (p.  72.) 


200  PRINCE   mSMAROK. 

On  this,  as  on  every  other  question  of  moment,  the  Diet 
again  became  sharply  split  up  into  Austrian  and  Prus- 
sian factions ;  and  on  the  victory  of  one  or  the  other 
depended  the  issue  of  peace  or  war  for  Germany.  Bis- 
marck was  sent  by  the  King  on  a  special  mission  to  the 
Courts  of  the  Middle  States  in  order  to  probe  their 
inclinations.  At  Hanover  he  was  heaped  by  King 
George — whom  he  was  afterwards  to  depose — with  so 
many  hospitable  attentions,  that  he  could  find  no  time 
to  register  the  impressions  which  he  had  been  sent  to 
gather;  while  at  Cassel,  the  Elector — with  a  caution 
characteristic  of  the  feelings  which  were  likewise  to  cost 
him  his  crown — only  received  the  Prussian  Envoy  on 
being  assured  that  he  would  not  speak  of  the  rumoured 
alliance  of  a  Princess  of  Prussia  with  a  scion  of  his 
house.  He  performed  his  mission  with  tact ;  but  it  is 
clear  that,  while  merely  professing  to  learn  the  views  of 
the  minor  States,  he  did  all  he  could  to  determine  them. 
And  he  was  already  the  sworn  foe  of  Austria.  Austria 
argued  that  Prussia  had  no  right  to  act  independently 
of  her  in  the  matter  of  the  Eastern  question.  But  Bis- 
marck was  resolved  to  change  all  that.  On  hearing  that 
his  Grovernment  had  concluded  with  Austria  the  offen- 
sive and  defensive  alliance  of  April  20,  1854,  he  was 
furious. 

"  It  was  calculated,"  he  wrote,  "  to  disappoint  the  expectations  of 
the  German  States  and  to  discredit  Prussia  in.  their  eyes,  for  they 
will  now  see  that  Austria  is  her  master." 

Among  other  means  employed  by  the  Western  Powers 
to  win  over  Prussia  to  their  side,  they  had  represented 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  201 

the  paramount  interest  of  all  the  German  States  in  the 
freedom  of  the  Danube,  but  Bismarck,  strange  to  say, 
was  of  the  opposite  opinion. 

"  Germany,"  he  wrote,  "  has  very  little  interest  in  the  mouth  of 
the  Danube ;  but  ten  thousand  times  more  in  the  Adriatic  Sea,  in 
the  Morea,  and  in  England's  dominion  over  the  Ionian  islands.  .  . 
.  .  What  has  Austria  done  for  us  that  we  should  do  police  service 
gratis  for  her  1 " 

Unable  to  persuade  Prussia  by  reason,  the  Western 
Powers  had  recourse  to  intimidation.  Popular  opinion 
in  Austria  and  Prussia,  they  argued,  was  all  in  their 
favour,  and  the  Poles  in  these  countries  at  least  would 
rise  should  their  Governments  refuse  to  draw  the  sword 
against  Russia.  Bismarck  laughed  to  scorn  such  reason- 
ing. 

"The  Western  Powers,"  he  wrote,  "are  not  capable  of  insur- 
rectionising  Poland.  The  peasants  of  Prussia  and  Austria  will  not 
rise.  It  is  not  in  the  power  of  Louis  Napoleon  to  let  loose  or 
restrain  the  Revolution  in  Germany  or  Italy  at  will." 

It  may  here  be  mentioned  that  at  this  time  Bis- 
marck was  frequently  summoned  to  Berlin  from  Frank- 
fort to  advise  His  Majesty  and  draft  despatches — a 
proof  that  he  had  already  acquired  great 

J  Bismarck's  per- 

influence  over  the  mind  of  the  King.     It   onnprSnnce 
also    appears   that   the    Minister- President, 
Herr  von  Manteuffel,  rarely  committed  himself  to  any 
important  step — the  April  Treaty  was  an  exception — 
without    consulting    his    subordinate    at    Frankfort    in 
whose  judgment  he  had  the  greatest  confidence,  though 
the  trust  was  by  no  means  mutual.     Now,  it  is  clear 


202  FRINGE    BISMARCK. 

that  any  account  of  Prussia's  attitude  to  the  Crimean 
War,  written  without  a  due  appreciation  of  these 
hitherto  unknown  facts,  must  present  a  distorted  picture ; 
and  it  therefore  follows  that,  before  the  narratives  both 
of  Sir  Theodore  Martin  and  Mr.  Kinglake  can  claim  to 
be  perfect,  they  will  require  to  be  re-written.  "  The 
King  of  Prussia  is  a  reed  shaken  by  the  wind  ;  "  "  the 
King  is  the  tool  of  E/ussian  dictation,"  wrote  the  Prince 
Consort  in  the  spring  of  1854.  But  that  well-informed 
and  penetrating  observer  had  not  yet  discovered  the 
existence  of  a  power  which  was  beginning  to  sway  the 
will  of  Frederick  William  as  much  as  the  mighty  Czar 
himself.  Bismarck  looked  with  anger  on  the  arts  of 
persuasion  and  menace  employed  to  embroil  his  country 
in  a  ruinous  war  for  the  interests  of  others,  and  he  has 
himself  recorded  that,  if  he  had  been  the  King,  he  would 
have  repelled  the  advances  of  the  Western  Powers  "  in 
a  very  decided  and  disagreeable  way,"  even  at  the  risk 
of  being  excluded  from  the  subsequent  Congress  of 
Paris,  "whereby  Prussia  would  have  lost  nothing." 
His  attitude  to  the  Crimean  War  was  precisely  the 
same  as  his  standpoint  during  the  Russo-Turkish  con- 
flict of  twenty  years  later — one  of  strict  neutrality, 
shaped  by  the  conviction  that  neither  Prussia  nor 
Germany  had  the  remotest  interest  in  either  quarrel. 

Nor  was  he  by  any  means  alone  in  this  belief.  For 
this  was  almost  the  only  question  on  which,  when  at 
Frankfort,  he  ever  headed  a  majority  in  the  Diet  against 
Austria.  What  his  colleagues  in  the  Diet  thought  on 
the  subject  Bismarck  reported  to  Berlin  in  the  autumn 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  203 

of  1854;  and  there  can  be  little  doubt  that,  in  thinking 
as  they  did,  they  confessed  themselves  the  proselytes 
of  the  political  missionary  of  Prussia.     The 
Principalities  had  been  evacuated,  but  Aus-     lytes  of  prus- 
tria,    to   all   appearance,    was  still    casting 
about  for  means  of  engaging  the  German  States  in  a 
war  against  Russia.     They  reasoned  thus  : — 

"  Prussia  has  the  same  interest  as  we  have  in  preventing  Austria 
from  going  to  war  with  Russia,  and  if  she  can  only  have  the  courage, 
she  certainly  has  the  power  to  do  so.  But  when  we  see  Prussia 
allowing  herself  to  be  carried  along  by  a  'flighty  and  narrow- 
minded'  man  like  Count  Buol,  who  does  not  even  consult  her  in 
decisive  concerns  before  proceeding  to  action,  we  must  think  of  our 
own  security.  If  both  the  great  German  Powers  sail  under  the 
guidance  of  Count  Buol,  it  is  clear  that  Germany  will  suffer  ship- 
wreck, since  the  certain  consequence  of  an  Austro- Prussian  war 
against  Russia  would  be  the  alliance  of  the  latter  with  France,  for 
which,  as  is  credibly  reported,  the  way  is  already  paved,  and  which 
Russia  in  her  extremity  would  purchase  at  any  price.  Confronted 
with  such  a  danger  the  Austrian  State  would  scarcely  be  able  to  hold 
together,  for  the  French  would  find  it  easy  to  insurrectionise  Italy, 
while  the  Russians  have  the  choice  of  doing  the  same  with  the  Slavo- 
Greek  or  Magyar  races.  In  such  a  predicament  Prussia  and  England 
could  not  help  us,  and  if,  therefore,  the  former  cannot  keep  Austria 
from  going  to  war,  we  shall  certainly  march  with  Austria  and  France 
as  long  as  their  paths  coincide,  but  with  France  whenever  she  parts 
company  with  Austria  and  approaches  Russia.  The  duty  of  self- 
preservation  will  not  permit  us  to  do  otherwise,  if'  Prussia  does  not 
make  speedy  and  decisive  use  of  her  undoubted  ability  to  prevent 
Austria  from  going  to  war.  As  yet  Austria  has  not  bound  herself 
to  such  a  step,  nor  will  she  do  so,  moreover,  if  she  cannot  rely  on  the 
support  of  Germany,  but  especially  of  Prussia." 

About  this  time  the  King  of  the  Belgians,  who  was 
naturally  used  as  an  instrument  of  the  Court  of  St. 


204  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

James,  urged  anew  upon  Frederick  William  the  necessity 

of  going  hand  in  hand  with  Austria,   "  me  me  au  prix  de 

quelques  sacrifices  d  'amour-propre  de  la  part  de  Prusse  "  ; 

and  Bismarck  was  informed  that  the  King 

Bismarck 

"  concurred  in  the  views  of  a  Sovereign  and 


a  statesman  whose  oft-approved  wisdom 
entitled  his  opinion  to  serious  consideration."  But 
Bismarck  looked  upon  the  "  approved  wisdom  "  of  King 
Leopold,  in  this  particular  case,  as  mere  shortsighted 
selfishness.  "  Had  His  Majesty,"  he  wrote,  "  been  King 
of  Prussia  instead  of  Belgium,  he  would  have  doubtless 
counselled  otherwise."  His  Majesty  had  declared  that, 
in  the  event  of  Prussia  being  attacked  by  France  as  the 
indirect  consequence  of  her  Eastern  policy,  England, 
"  pen  fidele  a  ses  anciennes  traditions"  would  permit 
Napoleon,  "  peutetre  meme  avec  quelgue  satisfaction"  to 
seize  the  left  bank  of  the  Rhine.  Bismarck  ^effectually 
disposed  of  this  threat  by  pointing  out  that  the  Power 
in  possession  of  the  Ehine  would  also  be  master  of 
Belgium.  "Let  England  and  King  Leopold  think  of 
that!" 

None  were  better  aware  than  this  monarch  of  the 

horror  which  Frederick  William  had  of  the  Revolution, 

and  as  a  last  device  he  sought  to  work  upon  the  fears 

of    his    royal    cousin    at    Berlin    by    what    Bismarck 

regarded  as  a  mere  "  scarecrow  argument." 

*  Scare-crow 

The   detaching    of    Prussia   from   Austria, 


'  ,  reasoned  His  Belgian  Majesty,  would 
re-expose  the  thrones  of  Europe  to  the  disimprisoned 
forces  of  anarchy.  Bismarck  essayed  to  show  that  the 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  205 

co-operation  of  these  two  Powers,  to  the  extent  demanded 
by  the  extreme  advocates  of  an  Austro-Prussian  alliance, 
would  incalculably  increase  the  risks  of  a  re-appearance 
of  the  Eed  Spectre.  Eussia,  it  must  be  mentioned,  had 
by  this  time  evacuated  the  Principalities,  and  Austria, 
flushed  with  the  success  of  her  action,  had  begun  to  hint 
even  at  the  cession  of  Bessarabia.  But  Eussia,  argued 
Bismarck,  would  only  yield  to  such  a  demand,  even  if  it 
were  backed  by  Prussia,  after  a  long  and  unfortunate 
war  which  would  give  the  Ee volution  far  more  chances 
of  raising  its  head  than  the  dreaded  disunion  of  the 
leading  Grerman  Powers.  "  I  believe,  therefore,"  he 
wrote,  and  his  advice  was  taken  by  the  King, 

"  that  an  adhesion  to  the  (Eastern)  policy  of  Austria  will  only 
advantage  us  in  so  far  as  it  keeps  her  from  attacking  Russia.  I  am 
not  one  of  those  who  identify  our  interests  with  thosa  of  Russia ;  on 
the  contrary,  Russia  has  done  us  much  wrong,  and  we  can  knock  the 
Revolution  on  the  head  in  our  own  country,  and  in  Germany  at 
least,  without  Russia's  assistance.  Although  a  war  with  that  Empire 
would  be  a  serious  matter  for  us,  I  should  not  attempt  to  say  any- 
thing against  it  if  it  held  out  the  prospect  of  yielding  us  a  prize 
worthy  of  us.  But  the  very  notion  appals  me  that  we  may  plunge 
into  a  sea  of  trouble  and  danger  on  behalf  of  Austria,  for  whose  sins 
the  King  displays  as  much  tolerance  as  I  only  hope  God  in  Heaven 
will  one  day  show  towards  mine."  And,  again,  after  the  war  : — 
*'  The  interest  of  Prussia  is  my  only  rule  of  action,  and  had  there 
even  been  any  prospect  of  our  promoting  this  interest  by  taking 
part  in  the  war,  I  should  certainly  never  have  been  one  of  its 
opponents." 

It  were  as  tedious  as  unnecessary  to  detail  the 
various  devices  employed  by  Austria  and  the  Western 
Powers  to  drag  Prussia  into  their  service.  They  failed 


206  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

to  do  so.     The   King  was  several  times   on  the  very 
brink   of  the  precipice,  but  some   friendly   hand,    not 
observable  by  the  outer  world,  always  drew 
him   back.     What  is  certain  is,   that  the 


policy  actually  followed  by  Prussia  before 
and  during  the  Crimean  War,  with  all  her  wavering 
and  apparent  duplicity,  corresponded  with  the  personal 
views  of  Bismarck  ;  and  there  can  now  be  little  doubt 
that  this  policy  was  coincident  with,  because  to  a  great 
extent  the  consequence  of,  these  views.  But  who  then 
dreamed  that  a  certain  Herr  von  Bismarck  had  already 
begun  to  mould  the  destinies  of  Europe  ?  What  Euro- 
pean statesman  then  discerned  aright  the  signs  of  the 
times?  Well  might  the  poor  Marquis  de  Moustier 
feel  no  less  bewildered  than  indignant  when  told  to  look 
out  for  another  Leipzig  and  another  Waterloo.  For 
simply  refusing  to  fight  the  battles  of  his  neighbours, 
the  King  of  Prussia  was  abused  and  bullied  as  if  he  had 
been  the  undutiful  vassal  of  the  Western  Powers, 
instead  of  an  independent  Sovereign  ;  but  by  the  advice 
of  his  sagest  counsellors,  including  his  own  conscience 
and  his  Frankfort  Envoy,  he  remained  firm.  And  every 
one  is  now  agreed,  to  use  the  words  of  Leopold  von 
Ranke,  that  his  strict  neutrality  during  the  Crimean 
War  was  the  condition  precedent  of  the  great  achieve- 
ments which  afterwards  made  Germany  one. 

The  strained  nature  of  the  relations  then  existing 
between  England  and  Prussia  was  well  illustrated  by  an 
incident  which,  but  for  the  friendly  interference  of  Bis- 
marck, would  have  ended  in  the  recall  of  Sir  Alexander 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  207 

Malet,  the  British  Eesident  at  Frankfort.    At  a  banquet 
(autumn,  1855)    of  Englishmen  in  Homburg  in  cele- 
bration of  the  fall  of  Sebastopol,  Sir  Alex- 
Bismarck 

ander  was  reported  to  bave  expressed  him-     Slander 
self  very  strongly  on  the  subject  of  Prussia's 
behaviour  during  the  war,  and  the  Press  of  Berlin  cried 
out  for  vengeance.      Bismarck  first  received  notice  of 
the  affair  on  returning  to  Frankfort  from  a  private  trip 
to  Paris,  and  he  immediately  put  in  a  good  word  for  his 
English   colleague.      He    wrote  to   Berlin   (Oct.    8th, 
1855)  :— 

"  May  I  take  the  liberty  of  suggesting  that,  in  consideration  of 
the  personal  qualities  of  the  British  Envoy  here,  we  should  take  no 
official  notice  of  the  incident.  Sir  Alexander  is  an  inoffensive 
character,  and  is  more  distinguished  for  calmness  and  moderation  in 
the  expression  of  his  political  opinions  than  many  of  his  English 
colleagues.  Indeed,  he  might  well  be  reproached  by  his  Government 
more  with  indifference  than  with  trop  de  zele  ;  but,  apart  from  the 
present  Eastern  Question,  he  is  much  more  inclined  to  sympathise 
with  Prussia  than  with  Austria.  Belonging  to  that  class  of  English- 
men who  are  passionately  fond  of  shooting  and  fishing,  he  does  not, 
as  a  rule,  take  any  very  lively  interest  in  political  matters,  and  is 
delighted  when  business  does  not  draw  him  away  from  his  favourite 
pursuits.  To  me  Sir  Alexander  has  always  been  open  and  com- 
municative. On  the  present  occasion,  too,  without  being  able  to 
remember  exactly  what  he  said,  he  expressed  to  me  in  private  con- 
versation his  lively  regret  at  the  sensational  and  exaggerated  dimen- 
sions which  the  subject  had  assumed,  assuring  me — and  truly,  I 
believe — that  it  would  be  contrary  to  his  whole  habit  of  mind  to 
insult  any  foreign  Government  or  friendly  Sovereign  in  an  inten- 
tional and  deliberate  way.  The  only  result,  if  any,  of  our  taking  up 
and  prosecuting  the  matter  would  be  a  change  of  English  Resident 
here,  an  eventuality  which  I  for  one  do  not  d  priori  regard  as  a 
desirable  one.  Indeed,  if  the  newspaper  reports  are  correct,  which  can 
scarcely  now  be  ascertained,  I  am  disposed  to  look  at  the  whole  affair 


208  PRINQE   BISMARCK* 

in  the  light  of  a  hasty  indiscretion  committed  inter  pocnla,  from  the 
consequences  of  which  one  ought  to  try  and  shield  an  otherwise 
agreeable  companion  (like  Sir  Alexander)." 

But  for  the  friendly  offices  of  Bismarck,  Sir  Alexander 
Malet  would  certainly  have  paid  for  his  imprudence  with 
his  post.  As  it  was,  he  received  a  "  severe  reprimand  " 
from  Lord  Clarendon,  who  remarked  that,  if  the  Prussian 
Government  had  seen  fit  to  complain  of  his  conduct,  he 
would  not  have  been  able  to  support  him  (quil  naurait 
pas  pu  le  soutenir). 

Some  writers  have  laboured  to  show  that  one  of  the 
main  causes  of  the  Crimean  War  was  Louis  Napoleon's 

desire  to  distract  the  attention  of  his  sub- 
Bismarck  is 

Ken  Victoria  jec^s  at  home  by  dazzling  them  with  glory 
reaped  abroad,  and  Bismarck  also  seems  to 
have  leaned  to  this  opinion.  From  a  "  behind-the-scene 
Bonapartist,"  whom  he  had  richly  plied  with  wine,  he 
extorted  the  confession  that  "  the  Emperor  wanted  a 
war." 

"I  cannot  take  it  amiss,"  wrote  Bismarck  in  April,  1855,  "if 
your  Excellency  laughs  at  my  thus  seriously  referring  to  these  absurd 
fancies  "  (the  possibility  of  the  French  compensating  themselves  for 
their  failure  to  take  Sebastopol  by  establishing  themselves  at  Con- 
stantinople) ;  "  but  from  all  I  have  heard  about  Louis  Napoleon's 
character  during  the  last  few  years  from  people  who  have  known 
him  for  half  a  generation,  it  seems  that  the  impulse  to  do  precisely 
what  no  one  expects  of  him  is  almost  a  disease  with  him,  and  is 
daily  encouraged  by  the  Empress.*  A  quiet  old  French  diplomatist 

*  Compare  this  with  what  Bismarck  wrote  of  Napoleon  a  few  years 
later  (June,  1857). — "In  Napoleon  III.  the  conquering  impulse,  as  an 
instinct,  does  not  seem  to  predominate  (as  it  did  with  his  uncle).  He  is  no 
soldier  (Feldherr],  and  in  a  big  war  coupled  with  great  success  or  dangers, 
the  eyes  of  the  army — the  support  of  his  supremacy — would  be  assuredly 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  209 

lately  said  to  me:  '  Cet  homme  va  nous  per  dre.  ft  finira  par  faire 
sauter  la  France,  pour  une  de  ses  caprices  que  V  Imperatrice  debite  d 
son  dejeuner  ;  il  faudrait  leur  faire  un  enfant  pour  les  rendre  rai- 
sonnables.' " 

As  an  illustration,  on  the  other  hand,  of  the  feelings 
with  which  the  activity  of  Bismarck  was  already  re- 
garded at  Paris,  may  be  quoted  the  fact  that,  in  the 
spring  of  1855,  he  was  made  the  object  of  a  violent 
personal  attack  by  the  official  Moniteur.  Bismarck 
and  Louis  Napoleon  had  already  begun  to  study  each 
other,  and  for  this  purpose  a  favourable  opportunity  was 
afforded  them  in  the  autumn  of  the  same  year,  when  the 
former  visited  Paris  and  became  personally  acquainted 
with  the  author  of  the  coup  d'etat  and  the  Crimean 
War. 

"  Hatzfeldt "  (Prussian  Ambassador  at  Paris),  he  wrote  in  August, 
1855,  "has  been  kind  enough  to  ask  me  to  stay  a  few  days  with  him 
on  my  way  "  (to  enjoy  the  sea-bathing  at  Trouville),  "  which  will  be 
a  great  treat  ('  sehr  inter essant ')  to  me,  as  I  shall  thus  be  able  to  see 
something  of  the  entertainments"  (given  by  the  French  Emperor) 
in  honour  of  the  Queen  of  England." 

On  which  subject  Sir  Theodore  Martin  remarks: — * 

"  Several  of  the  guests  "  (at  a  great  ball  at  Versailles,  August, 
1855)  "^ere  then  presented  to  her  Majesty  (Queen  Victoria),  among 
others  one  who  was  afterwards  to  visit  the  halls  of  the  palace  of 
Versailles  under  very  different  circumstances — Count "  (only  Herr 
von,  as  yet)  "  Bismarck,  then  Prussian  Minister  at  Frankfort.  He  is 
described"  (in  the  Queen's  Diary])  "as  'very  Russian  and  Kreuz- 

directed  more  towards  a  successful  general  than  to  the  Emperor  himself ; 
so  he  will  only  have  recourse  to  war  when  he  thinks  he  is  forced  to  do  so 
owing  to  domestic  dangers." 

*  "  Life  of  the  Prince  Consort,"  Vol.  HI.,  chap.  66. 

O 


210  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

ZeitungJ  and  as  having  said,  in  answer  to  the  Queen's  ooservation, 
'how  beautiful  Paris  was' — ' Sogar  schoner  als  Petersburg '  (even 
more  beautiful  than  St.  Petersburg)." 

Napoleon's  conversation  with  his  distinguished 
Prussian  visitor  bore  no  traces  of  the  displeasure  which 
had  vented  itself  in  the  Moniteur  a  few  months 
previously. 

"  The  Emperor,"  wrote  Bismarck,  "  conversed  with  me  chiefly 
about  the  King's  "  (Frederick  William's)  "  health,  and  also  paid  me 
some  flattering  personal  compliments.  There  was  no  mistaking  it 
that  we  Prussians,  in  comparison  with  other  foreigners  "  (Austrians 
especially),  "  were  treated  with  great  attention." 

Sehastopol  fell,  the  war  came  to  a  close,  and  diplo- 
macy sat  down  to  adjust  the  achievements  of  the  sword. 
Prussia,  who  now  wished  to  take  part  in  the 
great  game  of  politics  without  having,  like 
the  other  Powers,  deposited  her  stake,  came 
and  knocked  at  the  door  of  the  Peace  Congress ;  hut  she 
was  only  admitted  after,  like  an  importunate  beggar,  she 
had  waited  some  time  without.*  Much  less  apprehensive 
than  the  King  about  the  dignity  of  Prussia,  the  patri- 
otic heart  of  Bismarck  was  pained  to  see  his  country 
thus  humbly  suing  for  admission  into  the  council-room 
of  Europe,  believing,  as  he  did,  that  she  would  have 
suffered  no  great  harm  by  remaining  out  of  it.  But  she 
was  at  last  permitted  to  affix  her  siguature  to  the  Treaty 

*  "  Prussia's  participation  in  the  Paris  Conference — a  matter  in  which 
the  mere  point  d'honnev/r  was  the  chief  consideration  for  us — was  opposed 
by  Austria  more  persistently  than  by  any  other  Power,  with  the  object  of 
lowering  Prussia  in  the  eyes  of  Germany  by  excluding  her  from  the  con- 
clave of  Great  Powers."— Despatch  of  March  1858. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  211 

of  Paris  ;  and  shortly  after  that  document  had  been 
signed,  Bismarck  embodied  his  views  on  the  general 
situation  in  a  paper  of  such  brilliant  merit  that  his 
editor  has  called  it  the  "PracUtbericht"  or  "  Magnificent 
Beport."  *  And,  indeed,  it  well  deserves  the  name,  for 
it  is  impossible  to  conceive  a  more  profound  and  states- 
manlike essay.  The  Prince  Consort  was  a  master  at 
this  sort  of  thing  ;  but  let  any  one  compare  the  political 
memorials  of  the  Prince  with  the  similar  productions  of 
the  Prussian  diplomatist,  and  he  will  see  on  which  side 
lies  the  balance  of  depth,  penetration,  and  practical 
sense. 

Some  of  Bismarck's  observations  have  now  the  force 
of  fulfilled  prophecy,  for  he  clearly  foretold  the  two 
campaigns  which  drove  Austria  out  of  Italy  and  Grer- 
many.  As  soon,  he  said,  as  Napoleon  should  find  war 
more  suitable  to  his  purposes  than  peace,  Bismarck 
the  state  of  Italy  would  furnish  him  with 


a  cause  of  quarrel.  But  meanwhile  the 
Emperor  seemed  to  prefer  peace,  and  all  the  Powers  of 
Europe,  great  as  well  as  small,  vied  with  each  other  in 
their  endeavours  to  secure  the  friendship  of  France. 
And  Bismarck,  too,  like  the  political  utilitarian  he  has 
always  been,  counselled  his  Sovereign  to  conciliate  the 
upstart  Bonaparte  for  all  eventualities.  The  relations 
of  Prussia  with  Russia,  England,  and  Austria,  were  such 
that  she  could  march  with  any  of  them  as  occasion 
demanded  ;  but  with  France  it  was  otherwise,  and  the 
possibility  of  at  any  time  entering  into  an  alliance  with 

*  April  26th,  1856. 
O   2 


212  PRINCE    BISMARCK. 

this  Power  was  what,  in  existing  circumstances,  would 
most  advantage  Prussia.*  "  Therefore,  make  hay  while 
the  sun  shines ;  send  one  of  your  highest  Orders  to 
Paris,  or  even  invite  the  French  Emperor  to  attend  a 
grand  military  review  at  Berlin,  but  by  no  means  fail  to 
win  his  favour/'  was  the  substance  of  what  Bismarck 
wrote  to  Berlin.  An  alliance  between  France  and 
Eussia,  he  thought,  was  the  most  natural  thing  in  the 
world,  these  States  having  no  necessarily  opposing 
interests ;  and  in  the  event  of  its  conclusion  "  with  war- 
like aims/'  Prussia,  he  argued,  ought  not  to  be  among 
its  adversaries. 

"  For  even  if  we  were  on  the  winning  side,  for  what  should  we 
have  fought  1  For  Austrian  preponderance  in  Germany  and  for  the 
wretched  phantom  called  Confederation  !  Every  now  and  then  for 
the  last  thousand  years,  and  every  century  since  the  time  of  Charles 
V.,  German  Dualism  has  settled  its  disputes  by  an  internal  war; 
and  in  the  present  century,  too,  this  is  the  only  way  in  which  the 
clock  of  our  development  can  be  wound  up  and  set.  .  .  .  It  is 
my  conviction  that  at  no  distant  time  we  shall  have  to  fight  with 
Austria  for  our  very  existence,  and  that  it  is  not  in  our  power  to 
obviate  this.  .  .  .  And  if  I  am  right  in  this,  though  after  all 
it  is  more  a  matter  of  belief  than  of  proof,  it  is  not  possible  for 
Prussia  to  carry  her  self-denial  so  far  as  to  stake  her  own  existence 
for  the  integrity  of  Austria  in  a  struggle  which  I,  for  my  part,  can- 
not but  regard  as  hopeless." 

Here   we   have  the  first  clear  enunciation  of  that 

policy  of  blood  and  iron  which,  ripened  by  the  Crimean 

An  ominous        War,    was    destined    to     unify    Germany. 

While  the  political  constellation    resulting 

from   that  war  was  taking    shape,    Bismarck,    after    a 

*  See  p.  235,  post. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  213 

careful  review  of  the  state  of  Europe,  counselled  the 
conjunction  of  the  Prussian  planet  with  the  rising  star 
of  France  as  the  likeliest  means  of  eclipsing  the  Austrian 
luminary ;  and  an  incident  occurred  which  seemed  of 
happy  omen  for  the  result.  When  these  thoughts  were 
big  within  the  mind  of  Bismarck,  he  rode  out  one  day 
with  his  Trench  and  Austrian  colleagues,  and  the  latter 
received  a  severe  kick  from  the  horse  of  Louis  Napo- 
leon's representative  which  sent  him  groaning  to  his 
bed.  To  a  man  who  has  confessed  his  belief  in  the 
influence  of  the  moon  on  the  growth  of  human  hair,  in 
the  mystic  qualities  of  numbers,  in  the  unluckiness  of 
doing  business  on  Fridays,  and  of  thirteen  sitting  down 
to  table,  such  an  incident  could  scarcely  fail  to  have 
been  regarded  as  a  sort  of  sign  from  Heaven. 

The  following  story  well  illustrates  that  rivalry 
between  the  leading  Grernian  Powers  which  was  accen- 
tuated by  their  respective  attitudes  to  the  Agenuflecting 
Crimean  War,  and  which  Bismarck  already 
foresaw  could  only  be  settled  by  an  appeal  to  the  sword. 
During  the  peace  negotiations  Count  Buol,  Austrian 
Minister  of  Foreign  Affairs,  came  to  Frankfort  on  his 
way  to  Paris ;  and  Count  Rechberg,  President  of  the 
Diet,  thus  craftily  devised  the  semblance  of  a  sponta- 
neous demonstration  of  allegiance  on  the  part  of  his 
colleagues,  which  should  no  less  gratify  his  Austrian 
Chief  than  exasperate  his  Prussian  rival.  Each  member 
of  the  Diet  was  taken  apart,  and  told  that  Count  Buol 
would  be  glad  to  see  him  after  a  certain  sitting ;  and 
each  member,  fancying  that  this  honour  was  specially 


214  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

meant  for  him,  repaired  with  hopeful  alacrity  to  the 
residence  of  the  great  man.  But  Bismarck,  resenting 
the  impertinence  of  such  an  offhand  invitation,  and 
reasoning  that  if  Count  Buol  wished  to  speak  with  him 
he  could  come  to  him  and  tell  him  what  he  wanted,  took 
no  notice  whatever  of  the  request.  It  was  well  he  did 
so.  For  presently  there  came  to  him  the  French 
Ambassador,  who  said,  "  En  sortant  de  chez  le  Comte  de 
Huol,  fai  trouve  dans  I 'antichambre  lout  le  troupeau  de  la 
Diete  range  et  surveille  par  le  Comte  de  Rechberg,  et  pret 
a  rendre  ses  hommages  au  Comte  de  Buol!9  Bismarck 
thanked  Heaven  that  his  sense  of  self-respect  and  his 
duty  to  his  King  had  prevented  him  from  joining  this 
genuflecting  "  troupeau'9  and  probably  wrote  to  Berlin 
to  ask  how  many  bayonets  Prussia,  at  a  pinch,  could 
bring  into  the  field. 

But  if  Prussia,  for  once,  had  succeeded  to  some  extent 
in  controlling  the  policy  of  Austria  with  respect  to  the 
Prussia  and  Crimean  War,  the  latter  cast  about  for 
means  of  avenging  herself  on  her  pre- 
sumptuous rival.  And  an  opportunity  for  this  purpose 
soon  presented  itself.  By  a  process  of  historical  and 
dynastic  inheritance  which  we  need  not  detail,  the  Swiss 
canton  of  Neuenburg,  or  ]STeuchatel,  had,  in  1707,  come 
into  possession  of  Frederick,  the  first  King  of  Prussia. 
As  a  feudal  enclave  of  the  monarchy,  with  special  privi- 
leges of  its  own,  Neuchatel  continued  under  a  Prussian 
governor*  till  1806,  when  it  was  ceded  by  Frederick 

*  English  readers  of  Rousseau  and  Carlyle  will  remember  that  one  of 
its  Governors  was  the  elder  Keith,  the  exiled  Earl  Marischal,  the  only 
human  being  in  whom  Jean- Jacques,  on  his  own  confession,  ever  trusted. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  215 

William  III.  to  Napoleon,  who  conferred  it  on  Berthier 
as  a  sovereign  principality.  Reverting  to  the  Prussian 
Crown  by  the  first  Peace  of  Paris,  it  was  granted  an 
oligarchic  kind  of  Constitution,  and  received  as  a  canton 
into  the  Swiss  Confederation,  while  still  acknowledging 
its  vassalage  to  the  Hohenzollerns.  But  this  ridiculous 
twin  relationship  was  not  long  in  breeding  discontent 
which,  after  various  vicissitudes,  at  length  expressed 
itself  in  the  revolutionary  year  1848  in  a  forcible 
deposition  of  the  royalist  Government. 

It  was  not  to  be  expected  that  the  pithless  King  of 
Prussia,  who  was  unable  to  put  down  a  rising  in  his 
own  capital,  should  send  a  force  to  quell  Arunaway 
a  revolt  in  Neuchatel;  nor  could  a  mere  pro 
paper  protest  achieve  what  bayonets  did  not  try  to 
accomplish.  The  gap  between  the  kingdom  and  the 
canton  grew  ever  wider.  It  is  true  that  the  Great 
Powers  (by  the  London  Protocol  of  24th  May,  1852) 
formally  recognised  Frederick  William's  claims  to  his 
runaway  dominion,  but  what  was  the  use  of  that  when 
this  dominion  would  not  return  to  its  beckoning  lord? 
In  the  autumn  of  1856  the  Royalists  rose  and  endea- 
voured to  oust  the  Republicans,  but  the  latter  worsted 
the  royalists  and  laid  them  by  the  heels.  Whether  the 
King's  adherents  acted  by  secret  direction,  or  only  with 
the  connivance  of  the  Berlin  Government,  is  not  certain ; 
but  in  any  case  Frederick  William  now  seemed  firmly 
bent  on  defending  those  who  had  imperilled  their  lives 
by  endeavouring  to  enforce  his  rights. 

Berlin,  accordingly,  from  its  far-off  bogs  and  sandy 


216  FRINGE   BlSMAHOK 

wastes,  imperiously  demanded  the  release  of  the  captives, 
while  Berne,  secure  among  its  bastioned  mountains, 
Beme  defies  defiantly  refused  to  set  them  free.  Not 
by  the  representations  of  the  Germanic  Diet, 
nor  by  the  advice  of  the  Powers,  nor  even  by  the  bully- 
ing of  Napoleon  *  —  who  was  vexed  at  the  victory  of 
Democracy  at  his  own  Imperial  door  —  could  the  haughty 
mountaineers  be  moved  from  their  firm  resolve.  Con- 
ferences were  held,  ultimatums  were  written,  war-loans 
were  raised,  armies  were  mobilised. 

"  I  have  hitherto  met  with  no  one,"  wrote  Bismarck  (22nd  De- 
cember, 1856),  "  who  thinks  it  possible  for  us  not  to  appeal  to  arms 
if  the  prisoners  are  not  liberated  before  they  are  sentenced.  Even 
Englishmen  and  Austrians  like  (Sir  Alexander)  Malet  and  Ingelheim 
(Austrian  Minister  at  Hanover)  admit  that  we  cannot  do  otherwise 
without  to  some  extent  forfeiting  our  prestige  abroad." 

But  while  granting  this,  while  admitting  that  Prussia 
had  right  on  her  side, 

"  Austria  was  at  great  pains  to  tie  our  feet  with  the  federal  rope 
('  Bundeschlinge-),  in  order  to  keep  us  from  acting." 

If  Switzerland  refused   compliance   with   the  just 
demands  of  Prussia,  the  latter  proposed  to 

Austria 


despatch   a  military  expedition   to  enforce 
her  demands  ;  but  Austria  raised  all  sorts  of 

*  Wrote  the  Noniteur  (17th  December,  1856):  "Ainsi  la  France  a 
rencontre  d'un  cote  (la  Prusse)  la  moderation,  le  desir  sincere  de  terminer 
une  question  delicate,  une  deference  courtoise  pour  sa  situation  politique  ; 
de  1'autre  (la  Suisse)  au  contraire  une  obstination  regrettable,  une  suscepti- 
bilite  exageree  et  une  indifference  complete  pour  ses  conseils.  La  Suisse 
ne  devra  done  pas  etonner  si,  dans  le  marche  des  evenements,  elle  ne 
trouve  plus  le  bon  vouloir  qu'il  lui  etait  facile  de  s'assurer  au  prix  d'un 
bien  leger  sacrifice." 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  217 

subtle  objections  to  the  passage  of  this  army  of  retribu- 
tion through  the  federal  (Grerman)  territory.*  And 
for  this  policy  of  obstruction  her  motives  were  plain. 

"  It  is  said  here,"  wrote  Bismarck  (16th  December),  "  that  Aus- 
tria's hostile  attitude  to  us  in  the  matter  is  mainly  due  to  jealousy 
of  us,  and  the  feeling  that  she  would  have  to  relapse  into  a  secondary 
position  while  Prussia  displayed  her  power  (against  Neuchatel),  and 
in  doing  so  established  closer  relations  with  South  Germany  and 
France." 

Austria  herself  a  few  years  previously  had  been 
forced  to  stomach  much  from  Switzerland  in  the  matter 
of  her  quarrel  with  respect  to  political  fugitives,  f  and 
she  was  anything  but  desirous  to  see  Prussia  adding  to 
her  prestige  by  bending  the  defiant  Switzers  to  her  will 
in  a  more  successful  manner  than  she  had  done.  Again, 
Austria,  who  looked  with  a  jealous  eye  on  the  growing 
intimacy  between  France  and  Prussia,  lost  no  opportunity 
of  trying  to  estrange  two  Powers  who  might  one  day 
make  common  front  against  her. 

"  In  Vienna,"  wrote  Bismarck,  "  they  know  full  well  that  France 
would  regard  herself  as  having  been  left  in  the  lurch  if  we  do 
nothing  to  back  up  her  unavailing  intercession  for  us,  and  that 
Louis  Napoleon's  respect  for  our  power,  as  friend  or  foe,  would  con- 
siderably diminish  if  our  policy  in  this  affair  goes  not  beyond  an 
interchange  of  words."  * 

*  "  I  hear  from  a  good  source,"  he  wrote  (]  9th  December), "  that  Austria 
has  taken  steps  at  the  Courts  of  Karlsruhe,  Darmstadt,  and  Nassau,  having 
*or  their  object  the  obstruction  of  our  march  through  the  territories  in 
question."  And  again,  a  few  days  afterwards,  he  reports  having  seen 
with  his  own  eyes,  for  a  few  seconds  only,  an  Austrian  circular  to  the 
Powers  calling  upon  them  to  prevent  the  march  of  a  Prussian  army 
through  South  Germany  into  Switzerland. 

f  From  the  canton  Tessin. 


218  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Count  Kechberg  did  everything  he  could  to  make 
his  Prussian  colleague  suspect  the  sincerity  of  France, 
but  Bismarck  convinced  himself  by  an  interview  with 
the  French  ambassador  (Count  Montessuy), 

"that  my  Austrian  friend  had  plucked  out  of  the  air  all  his 
material  for  exciting  our  distrust  of  France."  "  Austria,"  he  wrote, 
"  who  on  the  occurrence  of  any  event  first  asks  how  it  can  be  turned 
to  the  disadvantage  of  Prussia,  will  be  as  pleased  as  Lord  Palmerston 
if  we  do  not  get  out  of  this  business  with  honour." 

And  his  lordship  had  scoffingly  remarked  :  — 

"The  Prussians  will  incur  much  expense,  and  in  January 
Switzerland  will  condemn  the  captives  and  then  amnesty  them; 
done  la  farce  sera  finie,  et  la  Prusse  y  sera  pour  lesfrais."* 

His   lordship  was  not  far  wrong.      In  obstinately 

refusing,  as  they  did,  the  unconditional  surrender  of 

the  Prussian  royalists,  the  Swiss  were  mainly  influenced 

by  the  belief  that  Prussia  would  never  execute,  or  be 

allowed  by  the  Great  Powers  to  execute,  her 

Bismarck's  * 

threat  of  invasion  ;  and  it  was  characteristic 


of  Bismarck  that  he  never  ceased  urging 
his  Government  to  take  such  measures  as  would  -un- 
deceive the  Cabinet  of  Berne.  But  his  courage  was 
tempered  with  a  wise  caution,  and  when  at  last  Austria 
gave  to  understandf  tha$  before  Prussia  could  dare  to 
take  the  field,  the  Neuchatel  question  would  have  to  be 
discussed  by  a  Conference  of  the  Powers  interested 
in  the  treaty-neutrality  of  Switzerland,  Bismarck,  to 

*  Reported  to  his  Government  by  the  Hanoverian  Minister  in  London, 
and  repeated  to  Bismarck. 

f  In  a  Circular  of  23rd  December,  1856. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  219 

obviate  the  danger  of  a  coalition  against  his  country, 
counselled  his  Government  to  postpone  military  action 
pending  the  deliberations  of  this  European  Areopagus. 
France  even,  who  had  acted  throughout  in  a  spirit  of 
great  friendliness  to  Prussia,  began  to  hope  that  the 
latter  "  s'arreterait  a  la  porte  qui  conduit  a  la  guerre  ;  " 
and  accordingly  she  had  to  accept,  with  the  best  grace 
possible,  the  Conference  of  the  Great  Powers  which  met 
at  Paris  to  avert  war.* 

During  the  sitting  of  this  Conference,  at  which 
Prussia  was  represented  by  Count  Hatzfeldt,  Bis- 
marck himself  was  sent  on  a  secret  mission  to 
Paris,  where  he  pretended  to  outsiders  that  the  object 
of  his  visit  was  "  a  simple  holy  day 

J       *        Bismarck  In 

trip    of    pleasure."t      But  his     despatches     Pari8(1857). 
show  that  he  had  much  higher  aims  at  the  Court  of 
Napoleon,  and  there  is  every  reason  to  believe  that  he 

*  The  Neuchatel  Conference  which  met  at  Paris,  5th  March,  1857, 
under  the  Presidency  of  Count  Walewski  for  France,  was  attended  by 
Austria,  England,  Russia  (Prussia  and  Switzerland  being  occasionally 
admitted  with  a  consultative  voice). 

f  It  was  during  this  visit  to  Paris  that  he  wrote  to  his  sister  from 
"  Hotel  de  Donvres,  April,  1857.  I  have  five  fireplaces,  and  still  feel 
cold ;  five  clocks  going,  and  never  know  how  late  it  is ;  eleven  large 
looking-glasses,  and  my  necktie  is  always  awry.  I  shall  probably  have  to 
remain  here  until  Tuesday  evening,  although  I  am  longing  to  get  home. 
Since  November  1  have  not  got  out  of  this  vagabondising  life,  and  I  have 
not  had  the  feeling  of  regular  and  settled  home-life  since  you  went  with 
Johanna  to  Schwalbach  last  summer.  And  now,  in  addition,  they  even 
wanted  to  summon  me  to  Berlin  about  the  salt-tax.  Even  if  I  had  time,  I 
could  not  take  part  in  this  debate.  With  my  convictions  I  cannot  vote 
with  the  Government,  and  if  I  joined  the  Opposition  it  would  be  hardly 
decent  to  ask  for  leave  to  desert  my  post  for  that ;  and  viewing  also  the 
rumours  touching  my  eventual  entrance  into  the  Ministry,  about  which 
Johanna,  on  the  ground  of  your  information,  writes  despairingly,  they 
really  might  believe  that  I  had  views  concerning  all  the  humbug." 


220  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

had  been  commissioned,  among  other  things,  to  sound 
the  Emperor  as  to  the  possibility  of  close  co-operation 
between  France  and  Prussia,  independent  of  Conferences, 
in  the  matter  of  Neuchatel.  He  himself,  at  least,  once 
said : — * 

"  The  Emperor  was  very  kind  and  amiable  on  this  occasion.  It 
is  true  he  could  not  grant  the  King's  request  for  leave  to  march  his 
troops  through  Alsace-Lorraine  (against  Switzerland),  as  that  would 
have  caused  too  much  excitement  in  France ;  but  in  other  respects 
he  completely  approved  the  enterprise,  saying  that  he  would  only  be 
too  glad  to  see  the  democratic  nest  destroyed." 

But  the  "  democratic  nest "  enjoyed  the  protection 

of  several  of  the  great  Powers,  especially  England,  who, 

as  Bismarck  wrote,  "  was  most  emphatic  in  supporting 

Switzerland   against    our    conditions,    and 

He  puts  his  .      •  ,    .  P  -,  .  -,        « 

pride  for  once      Austria,  or  .course,  was  always  the  nrst  to 

in'his  pocket.  J 

back  up  England."  Bismarck  accordingly 
left  Paris  with  the  conviction  that  "  for  us,  in  the  cir- 
cumstances, acceptance  of  the  settlement  proposed 
by  the  Conference  is  a  necessity."  In  a  brilliant 
despatch,!  brimful  of  the  wisdom  of  expediency,  he 
showed  that — however  degrading  or  disadvantageous 
it  might  be  to  Prussia — she  had  no  choice  but  to  act 
upon  the  counsel  of  the  Powers,  who  would  infallibly 
side  with  Switzerland  in  the  event  of  their  advice  being 
rejected  ;  and  it  was  a  point  of  honour  with  his  Govern- 
ment that  the  captive  royalists  should  at  every  cost 
almost  be  set  free,  without  attaint  of  life  or  fortune. 
His  Government  acted  on  his  suggestion.  For  a 

•  During  the  Franco- German  war,  as  recorded  by  Dr.  Buscb, 
t  April  24,  1857, 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  221 

money  indemnity,  which    he    generously   declined   to 
pocket,  Frederick  William  IV.  renounced  all  his  sove- 
reign rights  to  Neuchatel,  and  his  royalist 
adherents    in    the    canton    were   liberated,     coffin  of  Fred- 

erick  William. 

But  the  incident  preyed  deeply  on  the 
sensitive  spirit  of  the  King.  It  drove  a  nail  into  his 
coffin.  From  Marienhad,  where  he  released  his  Swiss 
subjects  from  their  oath  of  allegiance,  he  returned  to 
Berlin,  only  to  betray  symptoms  of  that  sad  mental 
derangement  which  soon  deprived  him  of  his  sceptre, 
while  granting  him  a  brief  further  span  of  paralysed 
life.  *  As  for  Bismarck,  while  regretting  the  manner  of 
the  separation,  he  probably  felt  the  same  secret  joy  at 
seeing  Neuchatel  severed  from  Prussia,  as  thrilled  the 
hearts  of  all  Englishmen  when  they  finally  got  rid  of 
such  a  bone  of  Continental  contention  as  Hanover.  But 
nevertheless  it  added  to  his  already  long  list  of 
grievances  against  Austria,  that  this  Power  had  done 
all  she  could  to  force  another  humiliation  on  her  hated 
rival,  f 

*  Aus  dem  Briefwechsel  Friedrich  Wilhelm's  TV.  mit  Bunsen,  von 
Leopold  von  Ranke,  Leipzig,  1873,  p.  361. 

f  Referring  to  the  Neuchatel  incident  several  years  afterwards,  Bis- 
marck confessed  that  it  was  the  only  time  he  had  ever  made  an  attempt, 
but  a  vain  one,  to  speculate  in  stocks  on  the  strength  of  his  knowledge  of 
State  secrets.  He  believed,  he  said,  that  Napoleon  would  express  himself 
favourably  to  the  object  of  his  mission,  and  that  this  would  mean  war  with 
Switzerland.  On  his  way,  therefore,  from  Berlin  to  Paris,  he  called  at 
Frankfort  on  Rothschild,  and  asked  him  to  sell  out,  for  the  fall,  certain 
securities  of  his  in  the  banker's  possession.  But  Rothschild  strongly 
advised  him  not  to  do  this,  as  the  bonds  had  good  prospects,  as  would  be 
seen.  "  Yes,"  replied  Bismarck,  "  but  if  you  knew  what  I  know,  you  would 
think  otherwise ;  "  so  in  spite  of  all  his  banker's  representations,  he  sold 
out  and  went  off.  He  succeeded  to  his  mind  in  Paris ;  but  he  had  not 


222  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

When  in  Paris  (April,  1857),  Bismarck  certainly 
discussed  the  Neuchatel  question  with  Napoleon,  but 
this  was  not  the  primary  object  of  his  visit  to  the 
French  capital.  That  visit  had  been  suggested  to  his 
Government  by  himself,  and  it  was  made  daring  the 
Easter  recess  in  order,  as  Bismarck  said,  that  it  might 
disarm  suspicion  of  his  aim  by  looking  like  a  mere 
"  holiday  excursion."  The  Danish  Question  had  now 
come  to  be  one  of  the  burning  controversies  of  the  hour, 
and  Count  Eechberg  (for  Austria)  proposed  that  a 
Federal  Commissary  should  be  sent  to  Copenhagen  for 
the  purpose  of  seeking  to  bring  the  will  of  Denmark, 
on  certain  of  its  own  constitutional  affairs,  into 
harmony  with  the  wishes  of  Germany.  Bismarck 
naturally  desired  that  this  envoy  should  be  a  Prussian, 
but  it  would  only  be  courting  a  rebuff,  he  thought,  to 
despatch  him  before  his  Government  was  assured  of  the 
probable  success  of  his ,  mission  by  knowing  whether 
the  Danes  were  being  encouraged  to  resist  the  demands 
of  the  Diet  by  some  foreign  Power — for  example, 
France.  To  Paris,  accordingly,  Herr  von  Bismarck 
journeyed  at  Easter,  1857,  with  the  view  of  persuading 
Napoleon — 

"  That  the  integrity  of  Denmark  was  in  his  interest,  but  was 
nevertheless  incompatible  with  the  continuance  of  a  democratic 
regime  at  Copenhagen."  * 

taken  into  account  the  policy  of  Berlin  which  meanwhile  veered — probably 
out  of  timid  regard  to  Austria — and  the  thing  was  given  up.     There  was 
no  war,  the  stock  kept  steadily  rising  in  the  market,  and  he  could  only 
regret  that  it  was  no  longer  his. — Busch. 
*  Despatch  of  llth  March,  1857. 


DIPLOMATIC   CARflBH.  223 

And  when  closeted  with  the  French  Emperor  he 
avowed  that,  on  the  whole, 

"  the  maintenance  of  the  Danish  realm  in  its  present  extent  was  for 
us  most  desirable ;  and  it  was  with  regret  that  he  beheld  the  Danish 
Government  treading  a  path  which  must  necessarily  lead  to  the  dis- 
ruption of  the  State."* 

But  what,  then,  was  this  damnable  and  dangerous 
path  of  error  which  the  Danish  Government  had  begun 
to  tread  ?  In  detailing  the  disputes  which  led  directly 
to  the  Danish  war  of  1864  f  we  shall  have 

Bismarck 

ample  occasion  to  acquaint  our  readers  with  SSmtSenWh 
the  complicated  nature  of  the  Schleswig- 
Holstein  question,  but  meanwhile  we  must  anticipate  so 
much  of  our  narrative  as  will  enable  us  to  understand 
the  policy  pursued  by  Prussia  with  respect  to  the  Elbe 
Duchies  while  Bismarck  was  still  at  Frankfort.  We 
know  that  the  force  of  events  ultimately  brought  him 
to  dismember  the  Danish  kingdom,  but  in  the  period 
of  which  we  are  now  treating  he  was  even  much  more 
Danish  than  the  Danes  themselves  as  the  champion  of 
its  integrity.  To  his  mind  every  political  combination 
that  might  be  substituted  for  the  Danish  monarchy 
would  prove  much  more  inconvenient  to  Prussia  than 
the  Denmark  of  18474  The  "  monarchy-entire  "$ 
consisted  of  a  Danish  and  a  German  element ;  and,  in 

«  Despatch  of  1st  May,  1857. 

f  See  Chapter  VI.  of  this  work. 

J  Despatch  of  1st  May,  1857,  recording  his  conversation  on  the  sub- 
ject with  Napoleon. 

§  Gesammt-Monarchie,  or  "monarchy-entire,"  consisting  of  Denmark 
proper  and  Schleswig-Holstein,  of  which  the  population  was  mainly 
German.  See  p.  320,  post. 


224  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

the  event  of  its  disruption,  the  non-Grerman  portion 
would  prohahly  either  fall  under  English  or  Russian 
influence,  or  be  drawn  into  a  Scandinavian  Union 
which  might  prove  disquieting  and  dangerous  to 
Germany. 

For    these    reasons    Bismarck   never   hoped,   from 

motives   of    selfish    patriotism,  that    something  would 

turn  out  to  he  "  rotten  in  the  State  of  Denmark ;  "  and 

for  the  same  reasons  he  had  performed  with 

First  expe- 

-honesatsan  a  hearty  will  the  duty— entrusted  to  him 
by  the  King  of  Prussia  shortly  after  his 
first  arrival  at  Frankfort — of  inducing  the  Duke  of 
Augustenburg  to  sell  his  reversionary  interest  in  the 
sovereignty  of  the  Duchies  to  the  Danish  Crown.  For  if, 
on  the  death  of  the  King  of  Denmark,  the  Duke  of 
Augustenburg  were  to  reassert  his  claims  to  Schleswig- 
Holstein  (forming  part  of  the  monarchy),  what  was  to 
become  of  the  Danish  "  State-entire,"  and  all  its  ad- 
vantages for  Prussia  ?  To  the  task  of  acting  as  "  honest 
broker  "  between  the  Duke  of  Augustenburg  and  the 
King  of  Denmark,  and  of  persuading  the  former  to 
subordinate  his  personal  interests  to  the  peace  of  Europe, 
Bismarck  devoted  himself  with  a  tact  and  patience 
which  must  command  the  admiration  of  all  who  read 
his  numerous  despatches  on  the  subject ;  and  on  the 
last  day  of  the  year  1852  he  was  able  to  report  to  Berlin 
that  ("  yesterday  in  my  own  house/'  at  Frankfort)  the 
Duke  had  signed  the  formal  renunciation  of  his 
sovereign  and  other  claims  in  connection  with  the 
Elbe  Duchies. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  225 

What  came  of  this  renunciation  will  be  seen  by-and- 
by  ;  but  meanwhile  we  need  only  remark  that  the  des- 
tinies of  the  Duchies  were  now  under  the  domination  of 
two  international  agreements  :   the   Treaty 
of  London  (8th  May,  1852),  which  secured 


.  two  interna- 

succession    to    the    crown    of  the    Danish 


"  monarchy-entire  "  to  Prince  Christian  of 
Schleswig-Holstein-Sondersburg-Glucksburg  ;  and  a 
previous  Convention  (January,  1852)  between  Austria 
and  Prussia  (as  mandatories  of  the  Diet)  on  one  side, 
and  Denmark  on  the  other,  which,  forming  as  ib  virtually 
did  the  consideration  for  the  accession  of  Austria- 
Prussia  to  the  Treaty  of  London,  determined  the 
relations  of  the  Duchies  to  each  other  as  well  as  to 
Denmark  proper,  while  closely  defining  the  power  of 
the  Danish  Crown  in  its  German  domains.  Most  of  the 
German  Governments  regarding  the  Treaty  of  London 
as  an  infringement  of  the  rights  of  the.  Duchies,  the 
Diet  had  failed  to  sanction  that  agreement  ;  but,  on  the 
other  hand,  it  had  inconsistently  ratified  the  previous 
Austro-Prusso-Danish  Convention,  although,  as  Bis- 
marck wrote,  there  was  only  "  one  voice  of  regret  on 
the  subject  in  the  Federal  Assembly,"  which  in  the 
opinion  of  many  "  had  given  itself  a  death-blow  by  its 
yieldingness  in  the  question  of  Holstein." 

But  this  yieldingness  —  as  far  as  Prussia,  at  least,  was 
concerned  —  had  its  limits,    for  when  Den- 

Prussia  cham- 

mark  began  to  break  her  written  promises     gj^  otnS??' 
to    the    two    leading    German    Powers    by 
altering  her  Constitution  in  a  sense  most  despotic  and 
P 


226  PRINCE 

deleterious  to  the  population  of  the  Duchies,  Prussia  stood 
forth  as  the  champion  of  the  oppressed  Grerman  element 
in  the  Danish  "  monarchy  -  entire."  Not  that  she 
yet  wished  to  satisfy  the  national  aspirations  of  that 
German  element ;  but  it  was  in  her  interest  to  help  in 
alleviatiog  the  grievances  of  the  Schleswig-Holsteiners 
to  such  an  extent  as  would  secure  Denmark  from  the 
danger  of  disintegration  arising  from  the  discontent  of 
her  non-Danish  subjects.* 

"  Apart  from  our  interest  in  the  preservation  of  Denmark,"  said 
Bismarck,  to  Napoleon,  "it  is  a  duty  of  honour  with  us  to  protect 
the  German  subjects  of  the  King  of  Denmark  against  the  oppression 
and  constitutional  wrongs  from  which  they  ought  to  have  been 
secured  by  the  (Austro-Prusso-Danish)  agreement  of  1852,  and  in 
the  matter  of  which  the  Diet  itself — on  the  ground  of  that  agreement, 
as  well  as  of  other  federal  treaties — is  bound  to  procure  them  relief." 

Vowing  that  his  only  aim  was  to  preserve  the  peace 
of  Europe,  Napoleon  promised  Bismarck  to  support  the 
Na  oieonand  ^eman(is  of  Prussia  at  Copenhagen,  "pro- 
HoisSteSeque£  vided  they  were  such  as  would  not  imperil 
the  existence  of  the  Danish  monarchy," 
while  reserving  his  liberty  of  action  in  the  event  of 

*  "  The  day  before  yesterday,"  wrote  Bismarck,  on  3rd  July,  1857,  "  I 
called  on  my  previous  colleague  at  Frankfort,  Prince  Gortchakoff,  and 
referred  to  the  Danish  Question  somewliat  thus :  Prussia,  I  said,  as  well  as 
Russia  had  an  interest  in  maintainiug  the  territorial  integrity  of  the 
Danish  monarchy,  since  everything  that  could  take  its  place  would  be  more 
inconvenient  for  us  than  the  present  Denmark,  as  long  as  it  was  properly 
governed.  But  the  'constitution  entire'  (Gesammtverfassung)  was  not 
BO  much  a  preserving  as  a  disintegrating  element,  tending  as  it  did  to 
disrupt  the  State  by  embroiling  Danes  and  Germans  and  making  it  incap- 
able of  surviving  European  crises.  If  Denmark  was  to  be  strengthened, 
the  '  constitution  entire,'  and  with  it  the  dominion  of  democracy,  must  come 
to  an  end." 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  227 

Germany  having  to  enforce  her  claims  by  an  appeal  to 
arms.  This  was  what  Napoleon  said  in  April,  1857, 
when  sounded  on  the  subject  of  Schles  wig- Hoi  stein ; 
and  the  following  was  written  by  Bismarck  about  a 
year  afterwards  (30th  June,  1858),  when  the  Diet  had 
already  pointed  its  demands  of  Denmark  with  a  threat 
of  "  federal  execution  :  " 

"In  my  opinion  there  is  no  ground  for  the  apprehension  that  France 
in  this  question  will  seek  a  rupture  with  Germany.  It  is  quite 
possible  of  course  that,  if  she  had  the  support  of  England,  France 
might  seek  at  a  later  stage  to  make  with  her  a  common  demonstra- 
tion in  favour  of  Denmark.  But  if  France  wishes  for  a  continental 
war  in  which  she  would  not  have  England  on  her  side,  I  cannot 
credit  the  Emperor  Napoleon  with  unwisdom  so  great  as  to  select  the 
Holstein  afjair  of  all  others  as  the  ground  of  his  aggression.  If  there 
is  any  question  which  precisely  at  the  present  moment  would  arouse 
the  national  feeling  of  all  Germany  and  combine  the  German  Govern- 
ments against  France,  even  against  their  will,  it  is  surely  that  of 
Holstein.  .  .  .  Whoever,  therefore,  propagates  the  view  that 
the  French  Emperor  would  select  as  the  pretext  for  attacking  us  a 
question  which  for  years  has  passed  for  the  symbol  of  Germany's 
national  honour,  and  been  used  as  the  readiest  means  of  winning  the 
favour  of  popular  opinion,  must  have  special  reasons  for  exciting 
apprehensions  of  this  kind  or  for  slandering  the  common  sense  of  the 
Emperor  Napoleon." 

At  first  Bismarck  felt  inclined  to  counsel  co-operation 
between  Prussia  and  Austria,  apart  from  the  Diet,  in 
the  matter  of  the  constitutional  concessions 
to  be  wrung  from  Denmark  with  respect  to     Bismarck's 

policy. 

the  Duchies  ;   but  he  soon  found  that  the 
tendency  of  the  Vienna  Cabinet  was  to  pursue  a  system 
of  tactics  similar  to  that  which  it  had  used  in  the  affair 
of  Neuchatel.  and  at  last  he  suggested  to  his  Chief  (April 


228  PRINOE  3ISMAROK. 

16,  1858)  the  expediency  of  closing  the  correspondence 
between  Berlin  and  Vienna  on  that  subject : — 

"  It  is  precisely  our  many  years'  experience  that  Austria  utilises 
every  stage  of  this  question  to  accuse  us,  to  foreign  Powers,  of  being 
peace-disturbers,  and  to  Germany,  of  lukewarmness,  which  was  one 
of  the  grounds  rendering  it  desirable  that  we  should  transfer  the 
negotiations  and  their  responsibilities  from  the  two  Great  Powers  to 
the  totality  of  the  Confederation," 

Into  the  hands  of  the  Confederation  accordingly  the 
Danish  question  was  committed,  and  at  last,  after  a 
lamentable  display  of  intriguing  and  disunion,  it  re- 
solved, at  the  urgent  instance  of  Prussia,  to  decree 
"federal  execution"  in  the  Duchies  unless  Denmark 
complied  with  its  just  demands.  For  Denmark,  in  the 
circumstances,  there  was  only  one  way  of  answering 
this  ultimatum,  and  that  was  by  rescinding  the  various 
ordinances  (of  1854,  1855,  and  1856)  by  which  she  had 
broken  her  constitutional  pledges  with  respect  to 
Schleswig  -  Holstein  -  Lauenburg.  Royal  Patents  to 
this  effect  were  therefore  issued  from  Copenhagen  (6th 
November,  1858).  Federal  execution  was  stayed,  and 
Bismarck  was  heartily  congratulated  by  his  colleagues 
in  the  Diet  on  the  success  which  Prussian  policy  had 
achieved.*  "And  I  think  we  are  well  entitled/'  he 
wrote,  "  to  claim  the  honour  of  it." 

*  "  I  may  mention  to  your  Royal  Highness  "  (the  Prince  Regent)  "  that 
after  the  sitting  to-day  (12th  Nov.)  I  was  heartily  congratulated  by  several 
of  my  colleagues — including  even  some  who  had  repeatedly  opposed  me  in 
Committee — on  the  fact  that  the  Diet  owed  this  provisional  result— so 
favourable  to  its  own  reputation — exclusively  to  the  firmness  and  sagacity 
with  which  Prussia  had  conducted  the  whole  affair,  without  allowing  her- 
self to  be  led  astray  by  the  diverse  views  of  her  allies." 


DIPLOMATIC    GAUEER.  229 

By  the  country  at  large  that  successful  policy  had 
been  interpreted  as  an  effort  on  the  part  of  Prussia  to 
recover  the  popularity  which  she  had  for- 
feited  in    1850    (Olmiitz)  by  again   hand-     nSSfingofhia 

policy. 

ing  over  Schleswig-Holstein — after  all  its 
struggles  to  become  free  and  German — to  the  tender 
mercies  of  the  Danes.  But  to  the  practical  mind  of 
Bismarck  the  primary  duty  of  his  Government  was 
meanwhile  to  secure  the  advantages  arising  from  the 
continued  integrity  of  the  Danish  "  monarchy-entire," 
under  conditions  more  just  and  tolerable  to  the  German 
element  therein.  This,  then,  was  the  provisional  solu- 
tion of  the  Schleswig-Holstein  question  which  Bis- 
marck had  been  mainly  instrumental  in  effecting  during 
his  tenure  of  diplomatic  office  at  Frankfort;  and  we 
shall  afterwards  see  that  it  was  in  endeavouring  to 
effect  a  precisely  similar  solution  of  the  same  question 
when  he  had  again  to  deal  with  it  a  few  years  hence  as 
the  director  of  his  country's  foreign  policy  that,  strange 
to  say,  he  produced  results  entirely  the  reverse  of  those 
at  which  he  aimed — to  the  sore  detriment  of  Denmark, 
but  to  the  great  advantage  of  the  Duchies  themselves 
as  well  as  of  the  German  nation.  But  of  those  results 
our  readers  shall  hear  enough  anon. 

Shortly  after  receiving  the  congratulations  of  his 
colleagues  in  the  Diet  on  the  success  of  Prussia's 
policy  in  the  matter  of  the  Elbe  Duchies,  Bismarck  was 
informed  that  the  Prince  Eegent  *  (afterwards  King 

*  Owing  to  the  continued  illness  of  his  brother,  Frederick  William  IV., 
the  Prince  of  Prussia  had  been  appointed  Eegent,  on  7th  October, 


230  PRINCE   BISMAROK. 

William)  had  been   pleased  (29th  January,    1859)    to 

appoint  him  Minister  at  the  Court  of  St.  Petersburg. 

For  some  time  back  he  had  been  well  aware 

MiSster  at  st.     that  the  inauguration  of  the  "  New  Era  "  at 

Petersburg. 

Berlin,  under  the  Prince  Eegent  and  his 
Liberal  Ministers,  would  affect  his  position  at  Frank- 
fort. Already  on  the  12th  November,  1858,  he  had 
written  to  his  sister  : — 

"  I  believe  the  Prince  "  (of  Hohenzollern)  "  has  been  placed  at 
the  head  of  affairs  simply  to  have  a  guarantee  against  party  govern- 
ment and  against  a  slipping  away  to  the  Left.  If  I  ain  wrong  in 
this  supposition,  or  if  they  want  to  shelve  me  for  the  benefit  of 
place-hunters,  I  shall  retire  under  the  guns  of  Schoenhausen,  watch 
how  they  govern  in  Prussia  with  a  majority  of  the  Left,  and 
endeavour  to  do  my  duty  in  the  Upper  Chamber.  Change  is  the 
soul  of  life,  and  I  hope  I  shall  feel  ten  years  younger  when  I  find 
myself  in  the  same  fighting  position  as  I  held  in  '48  and  '49. 
When  I  can  no  longer  play  the  parts  of  gentleman  and  diplo- 
matist at  the  same  time,  the  pleasure  or  the  burden  of  spending 
a  large  salary  with  distinction  will  not  make  me  hesitate  for  a 
moment  in  my  choice.*  I  have  enough  for  the  necessaries  of  life 

a  function  which  he  exercised  till  his  accession  to  the  throne,  2nd  January, 
1861. 

*  Compare  this  with  what  Bismarck  wrote  in  July,  1852,  on  the  subject 
of  certain  rumours  connected  with  his  plans  for  the  future,  which  he 
attributed  to  a  half-jesting  answer  he  had  once  returned  to  the  question  of 
Count  Platen  :  "  If  I  thought  your  Excellency  would  remain  in  office, 
.  .  .  and  again,  who  your  successor  would  be  ?  My  answer  was — Perhaps 
Rochow,  perhaps  Bunsen ;  that  your  Excellency,  as  I  concluded  from 
certain  hints,  would  propose  me  as  your  successor  if  you  resigned,  and  I 
were  alive  at  the  time  ;  that  his  Majesty  would  probably  not  act  upon  your 
suggestion ;  and  that  my  little  castle  in  the  air  was,  that  I  should  remain 
three  or  five  years  more  at  Frankfort,  and  then  as  long  at  Vienna  or  Paris, 
and  that  I  should  afterwards  be  a  famous  minister  for  ten  years,  and  die 
a  country  gentleman,  if  I  might  be  allowed  to  paint  my  own  future.  .  .  . 
Tour  Excellency  will  excuse  my  candour  if  I  say  that  I  should  be  a  fool  to 
seek  to  exchange  my  present  position  (here  at  Frankfort)  for  that  of  a 
minister,  apart  altogether  from  the  circumstance  that  if  I  suddenly  felt  ft 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  231 

and  so  long  as  God  keeps  my  wife  and  children  ,in  good  health, 
as  he  has  done  hitherto,  then  I  will  say  vogue  la  gaUre  in  whatever 
channel  it  may  be.  Thirty  years  hence  it  will  be  a  matter  of 
absolute  indifference  whether  I  now  play  the  part  of  diplomatist 
or  country  squire,  and  hitherto  I  have  had  more  pleasure  in  looking 
forward  to  a  keen  and  honest  struggle,  unhampered  by  the  fetters 
of  office,  or,  as  it  were,  political  bathing-drawers,  than  to  an  ever- 
lasting regime  of  truffles,  despatches,  and  grand  crosses.  After 
nine  all  is  over,  says  the  actor,  I  cannot  for  the  present  tell  you 
more  than  these,  my  own  personal  feelings ;  I  myself  have  not 
yet  succeeded  in  solving  the  riddle.  I  take  a  special  pleasure  in 
the  Bund;  all  the  members,  who  six  months  ago  demanded  my 
recall  as  indispensable  to  German  Unity,  shudder  now  at  the  very 
thought  of  losing  me.  *  *  calls  up  a  reminiscence  of  '48  to 
frighten  us,  and  they  are  like  a  dovecote  that  sees  a  weasel,  so 
terrified  are  they  at  the  idea  of  democrats,  barricades,  and  parlia- 
ment; while  *  *  falls  into  my  arms  overcome  with  emotion, 
and  murmurs  with  a  spasmodic  shake  of  the  hand,  *  we  shall  be 
driven  once  more  into  the  same  field/  The  Frenchman,  of  course 
and  even  the  Englishman,  look  upon  us  as  incendiaries,  while 
the  Russian  is  afraid  that  the  Emperor  will  follow  our  example 
and  hesitate  in  his  plans  of  reform.  My  advice  to  everybody 
naturally  is,  'Be  calm,  and  things  will  settle  themselves/  and 
I  receive  the  satisfactory  reply,  '  Ah,  yes,  if  you  stayed  here,  we 
should  have  a  guarantee,  but " 

A  month  later  (10th  December),  he  again  wrote  to 
his  sister : — 

"  Nothing  more  is  said  about  my  removal  or  dismissal.  Some 
time  ago  it  seemed  certain  that  I  was  to  go  to  St.  Petersburg, 
and  I  had  so  made  up  my  mind  to  this  plan  that  I  actually 
felt  disappointed  when  I  heard  that  I  was  to  stay  here.  Poli- 
tically speaking,  we  are  going  to  have  very  bad  weather  here, 

passionate  craving  for  the  (ministerial)  crown  of  thorns,  your  Excellency 
would  perhaps  be  the  first  to  whom  I  should  speak  of  this  longing.  I  am 
sincerely  grateful  to  your  Excellency  for  the  pleasant  and  honourable  field 
of  activity  which  I  possess  here,  and  I  cherish  no  other  wish  than  to 
remain  where  and  what  I  ain," 


232  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

and  I  should  like  to  have  waited  for  that  in  bearskins  with  caviar 
and  elk  shooting.  Our  new  Government  is  still  invariably  treated 
with  distrust  abroad  ;  Austria  alone,  with  celcul  iting  cunning, 
throws  it  the  bait  of  her  praise  ;  while  *  *  surreptitiously 
warns  everybody  against  us,  and  of  course  his  colleagues  do  the 
same  at  every  Court.  The  cat  won't  leave  the  mouse  alone.  I 
don't  think  I  shall  come  to  Berlin  this  winter  ;  it  would  be 
very  nice  if  you  would  come  and  stay  with  me  here,  before  I  am 
*  placed  out  in  the  cold  '  on  the  Neva." 

But  what  had  induced  his   Government  to  "  place 

him  in  ice  "  *  on  the  banks  of  the  Neva  ?     The  answer 

is  that  Europe  was  in  a  highly  combustible  state,  and 

the  Prince  Regent  doubtless  feared  that  the 

Bismarck 

continued  presence  of  Herr  von  Bismarck 


at  Frankfort  would  not  be  conducive  to  the 
pacific  interests  of  Germany.  Napoleon's  famous 
New  Year's  message  to  the  diplomatic  world  had 
gone  forth  ;  f  Austria  was  on  the  eve  of  war  with 

*  "  Kaltstellen"  a  word  used  of  champagne  when  placed  in  ice. 

f  Writes  Mr.  Blanchard  Jerrold  in  his  life  of  Napoleon  III.  :  —  "  On 
New  Tear's  morning  (1359),  when  the  Emperor  was  receiving  the 
customary  congratulations  of  the  Diplomatic  Body  at  the  Tuileries,  he 
said  to  the  Austrian  Ambassador,  M.  Hiibner,  hi  the  hearing  of  his  col- 
leagues :  'I  regret  that  the  relations  between  our  two  Governments 
are  not  more  satisfactory  ;  but  I  beg  you  to  assure  the  Emperor  that 
they  in  no  respect  influence  my  feelings  of  friendship  towards  him- 
self.' These  simple  words,  flashed  about  the  world  by  the  telegraphic 
wires,  created  a  profound  sensation.  They  fell  upon  Europe  like  shocks 
of  earthquake.  They  were  the  certain  first  inutterings  of  a  storm, 
which  diplomatists  had  regarded  as  inevitable  for  some  time  past,  but  for 
which  the  outside  world  was  not  prepared,  anxiously  as  the  vast  warlike 
preparations  of  France  and  Austria,  and  the  recent  military  activities  of 
Prussia  had  been  watched.  They  heralded  to  Italy's  master-mind  at 
Turin  the  coming  of  his  country's  deliverance,  and  he  said,  quietly  :  '  II 
parait  que  I'Einpereur  veut  aller  en  avant.'  The  shock  created  in  Paris, 
the  disastrous  fall  in  the  funds,  the  immediate  stop  put  to  trade,  the  swift 
interchanges  of  diplomatic  notes,  the  refusal  of  England,  and  Prussia  to 
promise  neutrality,  and  the  wild  hopes  which  found  expression  among  the 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  233 

France  and  Sardinia  ;  and  Bismarck  had  shown  in  which 
direction  his  sympathies  lay  by  ostentatiously  walking 
down  the  chief  street  in  Frankfort  on  the  arm  of  the 
Sardinian  Envoy,  Count  Barral.  Austria  naturally 
wished  to  attack,  or  await  the  attack  of  her  Franco- 
Sardinian  foes  at  the  head  of  a  united  Germany  de- 
voted to  her  interests  ;  but  Bismarck  would  not  hear  of 
Prussia  plucking  the  Austrian  chestnuts  out  of  the  fire, 
and  beheld  in  the  difficulty  of  the  Hapsburgs  the  op- 
portunity of  the  Hohenzollerns.  Now  was  the  time,  he 
argued,  for  Prussia  to  shake  herself  free  of  Austrian 
tutelage  for  ever. 

But  we  cannot  do  better  than  convey  his  thoughts 
on   the   subject   in   the  words   of   a   Note 

J  Napoleon  ex- 

written    by  Louis  Napoleon  in  December, 


1858,  for  the  consideration  of  the  Prussian 
Government  :  —  * 

Italian  patriots,  so  startled  the  Emperor,  that  he  hastened  to  protest  that 
his  meaning  had  been  exaggerated." 

*  The  Note  in  question  was  first  published  at  Rome  in  December,  1880, 
by  the  Minerva  Review,  which  gave  the  following  history  of  the  document. 
Shortly  before  the  outbreak  of  the  war  of  1859,  Cavour  was  anxious  to 
ascertain  what  were  the  views  of  Prussia  concerning  the  action  he  was 
preparing,  and  charged  the  Marquis  Bepoli  with  the  delicate  mission  of 
sounding  that  Power,  on  account  of  his  family  connections  with  both  the 
Bonapartes  and  Hohenzollerus.  Cavour's  Envoy,  therefore,  started  for 
Diisseldorf  to  spend  the  Christmas  holidays  with  his  brother-in-law, 
Prince  Charles  Anthony  von  Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen,  who  had  just  been 
appointed  President  of  the  Council  by  the  Prince  Regent  of  Prussia,  after- 
wards German  Emperor.  He,  however,  went  round  by  Paris  in  order  to 
have  an  audience  of  Napoleon  III.,  who  expressed  himself  most  warmly 
favourable  to  an  alliance  between  France,  Prussia,  and  Piedmont.  And  that 
the  Marquis  should  have  something  more  substantial  to  aid  him  in  his 
task  than  mere  words  employed  in  the  course  of  a  conversation,  the 
Emperor  embodied  his  views  in  an  autograph  Note,  destined  to  be  shown 
the  Prince  Regent  by  the  President  of  the  Council. 


234  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

"There  are  two  great  German  Powers,  Prussia  and  Austria. 
Prussia  represents  the  future,  Austria  the  past.  During  the  last  ten 
years  France  has  constantly  shown  a  marked  preference  for  Prussia ; 
whether  she  will  profit  by  it  or  not,  is  for  the  future  to  decide.  Let 
us  examine  on  which  side  the  interests  of  Prussia  really  lie.  That 
country,  like  everything  growing,  cannot  remain  stationary.  How- 
ever, if  she  allies  herself  intimately  with  Austria  she  is  constrained 
to  remain  so,  and  even  to  retrograde.  The  most  fortunate  thing 
that  could  happen  for  her  would  be  for  her  to  counterbalance  Austrian 
influence  in  Germany.  But  is  that  the  only  glory  which  should 
herald  in  a  new  reign  in  Prussia,  with  her  noble  and  chivalrous 
instincts  1  I  do  not  think  so,  for  if  Prussia  follows  the  interested 
counsels  which  are  given  her  by  various  Powers,  her  role  in  Europe 
must  be  limited  to  counterbalancing  her  rival ;  but  in  this  policy 
there  is  danger.  If,  carried  away  by  baneful  influences,  Prussia 
made  common  cause  with  Austria,  and  guaranteed  the  possession  of 
the  Italian  provinces  to  the  House  of  Hapsburg,  the  equilibrium 
would  be  destroyed,  the  treaties  of  1815  abolished,  and  France 
would  then  be  compelled,  by  appealing  to  Russia,  to  throw  down  the 
gauntlet  to  Germany.  I  trust  that  such  an  eventuality  will  never 
happen.  If,  on  the  contrary,  Prussia  silently  detaches  herself  from 
Austria,  and  shows  herself  well  disposed  towards  France,  great 
destinies  unattended  with  either  danger  or  convulsions  are  in  store 
for  her  ;  for  if,  in  a  struggle  between  France  and  Austria,  this  latter 
Power  lost  her  influence  in  Germany,  Prussia  would  inherit  it ; 
while,  if  Prussia  allies  herself  with  Austria,  all  progress  is  impossi- 
ble, and  she  will  risk  bringing  about  an  alliance  between  Russia  and 
France  against  Germany.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  she  allies  herself 
with  France,  she  will  profit  by  every  diminution  of  Austrian 
influence,  and,  with  the  support  of  France,  be  able  to  pursue  in 
Germany  the  great  destinies  in  store  for  her,  and  which  the  German 
people  are  desirous  of  seeing  her  attain." 

These  were  the  words  of  Napoleon  III.,  but  they 
could   not  possibly   have   given  better  ex- 

Blsmarck  the  .  —,.  ,  ,  .  p_.  .    . 

supporter  of       pression  to  Bismarck  s  own  views  of  Prussia  s 

France.  r 

policy  and  duty  on  the  eve  of  the  Italian 
war.     For  years  back  he  had  urgently  counselled  his 


DIPLOMATIC    OAEEER.  235 

Government  to  court  an  alliance  with  France  as  the  best 
means  of  rising  superior  to  the  domineering  treatment 
of  Austria.*  In  June,  1857,  he  had  written  in  a 
brilliant  "  Memoir  on  Prussia's  relations  to  France,''! 
a  paper  brimful  of  historical  knowledge  and  political 
wisdom ; — 

"  Louis  Napoleon  having  been  officially  recognised  by  us  as  the 
Sovereign,  of  a  neighbouring  State,  it  cannot  seem  in  any  way 
derogatory  to  our  honour  to  enter  with  him  into  those  relations 
suggested  by  the  course  of  political  events.  In  themselves  these 
relations  may  not  be  desirable,  but  even  if  we  wanted  to  form  other 
intimacies  it  would  scarcely  be  possible  to  do  this  without  destroying 
the  reality  or  the  semblance  of  our  friendship  with  France.  It  is 
only  by  this  means  that  we  can  force  Austria  to  abandon  her  over- 
ambitious  Schwarzenberg  policy,  as  it  is  also  only  in  this  manner 
that  we  can  prevent  the  further  development  of  direct  relations 
between  our  Central  States  and  France  which  might  end  in  the 
complete  dissolution  of  Germany.  England,  too,  will  begin  to  acknow- 
ledge how  important  Prussia's  alliance  is  to  her  as  soon  as  she  is 
obliged  to  apprehend  that  she  will  lose  it  and  that  it  will  pass  from 
her  to  France.  Thus,  also,  if  we  want  to  effect  a  rapprochement 
between  ourselves  and  Austria  and  England,  we  must  begin  with 
France,  in  order  to  bring  those  two  Powers  to  a  decision.  .  .  But 
whatever  side  Prussia  may  be  inclined  to  take  in  a  future  recon- 
struction of  the  European  alliances,  I  should  in  every  respect 
recommend  her  not  to  reject  the  present  offers  ('  wooings ')  of 
France  for  our  friendship,  but  on  the  contrary  to  give  expression  to 
the  existence  of  more  intimate  relations  between  both  Governments 
in  a  manner  intelligible  to  all  the  Cabinets.  And  such  a  mode  of 
expression  would  more  particularly  present  itself  in  a  visit  of  the 
Emperor  Napoleon  to  Prussia." 

It  was  for  the  reasons  above  set  forth  that  Bismarck 
did  everything  he  could  to  keep  his  Government  from 

«  See  p.  211,  ante. 

t  Vol.  IY.  of  his  Frankfort  Despatches. 


236  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

assisting  Austria — in  never  so  indirect   and   passive   a 
way,   even — in   her   struggle   with    France 

The  sworn  foe  J 

and    Italy.       Already    in    1856    he    had 
written,  as  we  saw,*  that — - 

"  It  is  not  possible  for  Prussia  to  carry  her  self-denial  so  far  as  to 
stake  her  own  existence  for  the  integrity  of  Austria  in  a  struggle 
which  I,  for  iny  part,  cannot  but  regard  as  hopeless." 

And  now  he  said  : — f 

To  support  Austria  in  the  war  would  be  political  suicide  for 
Prussia,  whom  the  former  was  only  casting  about  and  biding  her  time 
to  ruin.  As  for  the  apprehension  of  many,  that  after  the  conquest 
of  Austria  by  France  it  would  be  Prussia's  turn  next,  as  in  1805-6 
— history,  he  argued,  would  never  so  repeat  itself.  "We  shall  never 
attack  France,  but  if  assailed  by  her  we  must  defend  ourselves,  and 
if  unable  to  do  so,  we  should  not  deserve  to  be  called  a  nation.  Much 
greater  is  the  danger  of  our  being  overcome  by  Austria.  If  we  suc- 
ceed not  in  expelling  her  from  Germany,  and  she  still  retains  the 
upper  hand  in  it,  our  Kings  will  again  become  Electors  and  the 
vassals  of  Austria ;  and,  if  it  is  our  aim  to  extrude  her  from  Germany, 
we  can  only  profit  by  Austria  first  being  weakened  by  France." 

On  the  same  occasion  Bismarck  confessed  his  belief 
that  he  had  no  slight  influence  on  the  King 

Bismarck  fails 

8treamSonL      (Prince  -  Kegent)  whom  he  had  repeatedly 
tried  to  convince — and  with  apparent  suc- 
cess— of  "the  justness  of  the  above  views,  though  the 

*  See  p.  212,  ante. 

f  "  Erinnerungen  aus  meinem  Lelen  "  ("  Recollections  of  my  Life," 
printed  in  the  Deutsche  Revue  for  October,  1881)  by  Herr  von  Unruh,  a 
political  friend  of  Bismarck,  who  had  a  conversation  with  the  latter  at 
Berlin  soon  after  the  outbreak  of  the  Italian  war.  Herr  von  Unruh  found 
Bismarck  in  bed  reading  the  Kreuz-Zeitung,  which  he  threw  aside  on  the 
entrance  of  his  friend  with  the  contemptuous  remark  that  "  this  journal 
has  not  a  spark  of  Prussian  patriotism,  urging,  as  it  does,  Prussia  to  sup- 
port Austria  against  France  and  Italy.'* 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  237 

subsequent  reasoning  of  timid  Ministers  like  Auerswald, 
Schleinitz,  and  Schwerin  had  filled  His  Majesty  with 
paralysing  scruples.  On  the  King  going  to  Baden, 
accompanied  by  his  Ministers  for  Home  and  Foreign 
Affairs,  Bismarck  hastened  after  him  with  the  intention 
of  continuing  his  efforts  against  intervention,  or  even 
the  semblance  of  such,  in  favour  of  Austria.  But  what- 
ever weight  Bismarck  may  have  had  with  his  royal 
master^  His  Majesty  was  still  more  under  the  influence 
of  national  opinion ;  and  Germany  was  all  but  unani- 
mous in  pronouncing  for  the  support  of  Austria  against 
her  French  aggressor.  The  cause  of  Austria,  argued 
the  war-party,  was  a  national  one,  but  Bismarck  was 
ready  with  his  reply.  "  The  word  '  German/  "  he  said, 
"  instead  of  '  Prussian/  I  would  fain  see  inscribed  upon 
our  flag  when  first  we  are  united  with  the  rest  of  our 
countrymen  by  a  closer  and  more  efficient  bond  than 
hitherto ;  the  magic  of  it  is  lost  if  one  wastes  it  on  the 
present  tangle  of  Federal  affairs. "  He  found  it  utterly 
impossible  to  breast  the  stream  of  the  time,  and  by  that 
stream  he  was  swept  into  a  quieter  and  less  dangerous 
side-eddy  at  St.  Petersburg. 

He   left  Frankfort  during  the  acute   phase  of  the 
diplomatic  period  preceding  the  outbreak  of  the  Italian 
war ;  but  before  quitting  the  post  which  he 
had  so  well  and  bravely  held  for  eiidit  long     writes  a6  ° 

J  &       "Little  Book." 

years,*  he  embodied  the  results  of  his  ex- 
perience in  a  report  of  such  elaborate  length  and  states- 
manlike   wisdom    as    procured   for   it   among  Prussian 
*  He  was  succeeded  by  Herr  you  Usedom. 


238  PRINCE    BISMARCK. 

diplomatists  the  name  of  the  "  Little  Book."  *  As 
being  nothing  in  the  main  but  a  recapitulation  of  those 
grievances  which  Prussia  suffered  at  the  hands  of 
Austria,  and  which  we  have  done  our  best  to  recount 
in  the  preceding  pages,  we  need  not  trouble  our  readers 
with  a  summary  of  this  "  Little  Book ;  "  but  the  key- 
note of  its  complaints  may  be  indicated  by  a  quotation 
from  another  of  Bismarck's  despatches,  written  a  year 
previously  (March,  1858)  : — 

"  It  is  quite  amazing  what  successes  Austria  achieves  with  her 
system  of  incessantly  and  uncompromisingly  persecuting  every 
diplomatist  who  dares  to  vindicate  the  interests  of  his  own  country 
against  the  will  of  the  Vienna  Cabinet,  until,  panic-stricken  or 
weary  of  resistance,  he  submits  himself  to  her  dictation.  There  are 
but  few  diplomatists  here  who  have  not  preferred  capitulating  with 
their  conscience  and  patriotism,  and  relaxing  their  steadfastness 
as  far  as  the  defence  of  their  own  Sovereigns'  and  countries'  interests 
is  concerned,  to  contending,  at  the  risk  of  their  personal  positions, 
against  the  difficulties  threatening  them  on  the  part  of  so  mighty, 
unforgiving,  and  unscrupulous  a  foe  as  Austria.  Austria  never 
gives  any  choice  but  this  :  unconditional  surrender  to  her  will,  or 
war  a  entrance.  I  might,  if  I  pleased,  make  my  life  as  easy  here  as 
my  predecessors  did  theirs,  and,  like  the  majority  of  my  colleagues, 
manage  all  my  business  arrangements  snugly  and  comfortably,  and 
acquire  the  reputation  of  a  camarade  supportable,  simply  by  com- 
mitting high  treason  to  a  moderate  and  scarcely  perceptible  extent. 
But  so  long  as  I  refrain  from  adopting  that  line  of  conduct  I  shall 
stand  quite  alone  to  resist  every  attack,  for  my  colleagues  do  not 
dare  to  support  me,  even  if  they  felt  called  upon  to  do  so." 

For  the  rest,  the  substance  of  the  "  Little  Book  " 
was  repeated  by  Bismarck  in  his  oft-quoted  letter  to 

*  The  greater  portion  of  the  "  Little  Book,"  as  well  as  the  despatch 
above  quoted,  will  be  found  repeated  in  "  Our  Chancellor,"  by  Dr.  Buscb 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  239 

Baron  Schleinitz,  written  a  few  days  after  the  outbreak 
of  the  Italian  war  —  on  the  day,  in  fact,  when  the 
Emperor  Napoleon  made  his  entry  into 

J  And  prescribes 

Genoa  (12th  May,  1859)—  in  which  he  urged 


on  his  new  Chief  at  Berlin  the  necessity 
of  profiting  by  the  European  conjuncture  to  vindicate 
for   Prussia   her   proper   position   of  authority   in   the 
Germanic  Confederation. 

"  In  Austria,  France,  Russia,"  he  wrote,  "  we  shall  not  easily 
find  the  conditions  again  so  favourable  for  allowing  us  an  improve- 
ment of  our  position  in  Germany,  and  our  allies  of  the  Bund  are  on 
the  best  road  to  afford  us  a  perfectly  just  occasion  for  it,  and  with- 
out even  our  aiding  their  arrogance.  .  .  .  I  see  in  our  relations 
with  the  Bund  an  infirmity  of  Prussia's,  which,,  sooner  or  later,  we  shall 
have  to  cure  tferro  et  igni,'  unless  we  take  advantage  betimes  of  a 
favourable  season  to  employ  a  healing  remedy  against  it.  If  the 
Bund  were  simply  abolished  to-day,  without  putting  anything  in  its 
stead,  I  believe  that  by  virtue  of  this  negative  acquisition  better  and 
more  natural  relations  than  heretofore  would  be  formed  between 
Prussia  and  her  German  neighbours." 

"  Fire  and  Sword  !  "  This,  then,  was  the  means  of 
solving  the  German  question  proposed  by  Bismarck 
when  he  left  Frankfort;  and  we  shall  see  that  his 
belief  in  the  efficacy  of  this,  and  no  other  remedy,  for  his 
country's  ills  ^rew  in  intensity  till  it  expressed  itself  in 
a  prescription  of  "  Blood  and  Iron/'* 

*  This  latter  phrase  was  first  used  by  Bismarck  when  called  to  office 
at  Berlin,  as  we  shall  afterwards  see. 


CHAPTER  V. 

DIPLOMATIC  CAREER  (continued). 

2.  At  Si.  Petersburg  and  Paris. 

"YESTERDAY,"  wrote  Bismarck  to  his  sister  on  the 
1st  of  April,  1859,  "I  had  a  long  audience  of  the 

En  route  to       Empress-Dowager,  and  was  much   pleased 
st.  perte?sburg.     with  the  old  j^^  graceful  and  distinguished 

manner.  To-day  with  the  Emperor,  so  that  I  enter  on 
my  new  functions  just  on  my  (forty- fourth)  birthday." 
His  journey  from  Berlin  to  St.  Petersburg  in  the  month 
of  March  had  been  well  calculated  to  prepare  him  for 
the  rigours  of  the  Russian  climate. 

"The  snow  was  so  deep,"  he  wrote,  "that  with  six  or  eight 
horses  we  literally  stuck  and  had  to  get  out.  The  slippery  hills 
were  still  worse,  especially  going  down  ;  we  took  an  hour  to  advance 
twenty  paces,  while  the  horses  fell  four  times,  and  got  entangled 
with  one  another.  Besides  this  we  had  night  and  wind,  a  real 
genuine  winter  journey.  On  my  outside  seat  I  could  not  sleep 
on  account  of  the  cold  ;  but  I  preferred  to  be  in  the  fresh  air,  and 
sleep  I  can  make  up  later." 

To  complete  this  picture  we  may  quote  the  follow- 
ing:—* 

"  He  passed  five  days  and  six  nights  in  the  narrow  carriage, 
without  sleep,  and  at  thirty  degrees  of  frost,  before  he  reached  the 

*  "  Bismarck  in  the  Franco- German  War,"  by  Dr.  Buseh. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  241 

first  railway  station.  But  the  moment  he  was  in  the  railway  carriage 
he  fell  so  fast  asleep  that  when  he  arrived  at  St.  Petersburg,  after  a 
ten  hours'  journey,  he  fancied  he  had  only  stepped  into  the  train  five 
minutes  before.  'They  had  their  good  side,  though,  those  days 
before  railways,'  he  went  on;  'one  had  not  so  much  to  do  then. 
The  post-day  only  came  round  twice  a  week,  and  then  we  worked 
with  might  and  main.  But  the  moment  the  mail  was  off  we  got  on 
horseback  again,  and  had  a  good  time  till  next  post."1 

At  St.  Petersburg  Bismarck  remained  "out  in  the 
cold"  from  the  spring  of  1859  till  the  spring  of  1862  —  • 
in  all,  therefore,  about  three  years  ;  but  un- 
fortunately the  despatches  he  wrote  during     viewUS0?nBis- 

nuii'ck. 

his  sojourn  in  the  Eussian  capital  have  not 
yet,  like  his  Frankfort  reports,  been  given  to  the  light. 
We  cannot  do  better,  however,  than  characterise  the 
impression  he  made  upon  his  Eussian  hosts,  as  well  as 
the  general  scope  of  his  diplomatic  activity  during  his 
mission  in  Moscovy,  in  the  words  of  a  writer  who  had 
every  opportunity  of  being  an  accurate  recorder  :* 

"  Circumstances  of  the  most  various  kind  contributed  to  make 
Bismarck's  entree  into  St.  Petersburg  society  pleasant  and  successful. 
It  was  known  that  the  new  Envoy  was  a  warm  admirer  of  the  late 
Emperor  (Nicholas),  and,  as  such,  an  opponent  of  the  anti-  Russian 
Liberalism  of  Berlin.  It  was  further  known  that  during  his  stay  at 
Frankfort  he  had  been  the  persistent  adversary  of  his  Austrian 
colleague,  and  that  in  spite  of  the  Austrian  sympathies  of  most  of  his 


*  "Aus  der  Petersburger  Gesellschaft;  Neue  Folge  (Leipzig,  1881),  " 
ft  continuation  of  the  work  which  has  been  translated  into  English  as 
"  Distinguished  Persons  in  St.  Petersburg  Society."  The  author  is  Dr. 
Julius  Eckardt,  a  Baltic-province  (German)  Russian,  who,  after  a  varied 
journalistic  and  literary  career  in  Russia  and  Germany,  ultimately  entered 
the  service  of  his  patron,  Prince  Bismarck,  in  the  Foreign  Office  at  Berlin 
as  chief  of  the  Prussian  Press  Bureau,  and  after  several  years  in  this 
capacity  was  appointed  to  succeed  Dr.  Nachtigal  as  Consul  -General  at  Tunis. 


242  PEINOE   BISMARCK. 

friends  and  partisans  he  had  quitted  the  Federal  City  as  the  sworn 
foe  of  the  House  of  Hapsburg.  That  was  the  best  introduction 
which  Herr  von  Bismarck  could  have  brought  with  him,  for  hatred 
of  our  'ungrateful'  protege  of  1849  was  then  the  password  of  our 
society,  as  well  as  of  our  diplomacy  and  its  new  leader,  Prince 
Gortchakoff.  There  was  no  need  of  quoting  the  good  relations  which 
had  existed  between  the  Russian  and  the  Prussian  Envoys  at  the 
(Germanic^  Diet ;  the  new-comer  could  not  be  better  recommended 
than  he  had  already  been  by  his  antecedents.  But  even  a  few 
months  after  entering  on  his  post,  the  Prussian  Minister  had  more 
than  answered  to  the  expectations  that  were  entertained  of  him.  Not 
to  speak  of  Gortchakoff  and  Westmann,  who  were  most  highly  edified 
with  the  sentiments  which  Herr  von  Bismarck  had  brought  with 
him  and  took  every  opportunity  of  expressing,  society  was  unanimous 
in  declaring  that  this  diplomatist  formed  a  marked  contrast  to  his 
stiff,  would-be  well-bred,  buttoned-up,  and  pretentious  predecessors, 
and  that  he  was  a  veritable  *  homme  du  monde.'  The  fresh,  uncon- 
strained, and  yet  self-po.ssessed  manner  of  the  new-comer  accorded  in 
every  respect  with  the  social  demands  of  our  aristocracy.  Instead 
of  the  anxious  precision  which  we  had  been  accustomed  to  expect 
from  German  statesmen,  Herr  von  Bismarck  displayed  an  ease  and 
affability  that  facilitated  official  as  well  as  private  intercourse  with 
him,  and  rendered  ceremony  unnecessary.  Business  people  were 
impressed  with  the  offhand  readiness  of  the  diplomatist  who  proved 
himself  at  home  on  every  subject ;  while  the  lions  and  lionesses  of 
our  drawing-rooms  were  charmed  with  the  unfailing  good  temper, 
the  flowing  wit,  the  distinguished  yet  simple  manners,  and  the 
excellent  French  of  the  man  of  the  world.  .  .  .  Here,  at  last, 
was  a  German  with  whom  we  could  associate  as  easily  and  pleasantly 
as  with  other  people ;  who  gave  himself  the  rein,  being  certain  of  his 
ability  to  pull  himself  up  ;  who  dictated  the  tone  to  society  instead 
of  mimicking  it ;  who  had  self-respect  enough  never  to  bore  himself 
or  others  with  superfluous  pretensions.  Our  overweening  aristocracy, 
accustomed  to  look  down  upon  everything  German,  and  to  consider 
itself  superior  to  all  others,  joyfully  recognised  him  as  one  of  its 
own  caste.  Herr  von  Bismarck  maintained  unaltered  the  confiden- 
tial relations  to  the  Imperial  family  enjoyed  by  his  predecessors, 
freeing  them,  however,  from  all  inconvenients  as  far  as  he  was  con- 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  243 

cerned,  and  establishing  himself  on  the  same  footing  as  that  occupied 
by  the  Ambassadors  of  the  Great  Powers.  He  was  at  once  an 
Imperial  family-friend  and  the  representative  of  a  powerful,  indepen- 
dent State  whose  dignity  could  not  be  sacrificed  under  any  circum- 
stances whatsoever. 

"  The  tall  figure  of  the  Prussian  Minister,  who  showed  himself 
almost  daily  on  horseback,  soon  became  familiar  and  welcome  to  the 
whole  city.  No  other  foreign  diplomatist  was  more  warmly  received 
by  the  Emperor,  or  so  frequently  invited  to  the  weekly  Court-hunts 
as  Herr  von  Bismarck,  who  was  not  only  a  sportsman  but  also  a 
genuine  lover  of  nature.  The  Prussian  Legation — theretofore  the 
abode  of  decent  dullness,  the  scene  of  rare  and  then  pretentious  enter- 
tainments— now  became  one  of  the  most  charming  and  frequented 
resorts  in  the  capital.  Everybody  knew  that  the  Prussian  Envoy 
was  unable  to  compete  with  his  French,  English,  and  Austrian 
colleagues  in  splendour  and  display  ;  but  everybody  also  agreed  that 
this  drawback  could  not  have  been  more  happily  and  gracefully  dealt 
with  than  it  was  by  Herr  and  Frau  von  Bismarck. 

*'  Instead  of  anxiously  seeking  to  conceal  how  limited  were  the 
means  at  the  disposal  of  the  Prussian  Legation,  or  to  deceive  the 
world  by  occasional  outbursts  of  prodigality,  Frau  von  Bismarck 
frankly  avowed  that  she  neither  could  nor  cared  to  pay  forty  silver 
roubles  for  a  dish  of  asparagus,  or  expend  the  salary  of  her  husband 
in  dress  and  diamonds.  .  .  .  The  little  dinners  and  evening 
receptions  at  their  house  soon  became  more  sought  after  than  the 
wearisome  fetes  with  which  other  diplomatists  ruined  themselves ; 
and  the  most  exacting  critics  were  obliged  to  confess  that  no  Embassy 
entertained  so  agreeably  as  the  Legation  in  the  Stenbock  Palace. 
As  we  had  heretofore  had  to  do  with  German  statesmen  who  either 
repudiated  their  national  customs  and  language  in  favour  of  French 
ways  and  speech,  or  else  were  obtrusively  and  fulsomely  ultra-German 
in  their  behaviour,  we  welcomed  in  Herr  von  Bismarck  a  diplomatist 
who  combined  the  Prussian-German,  proud  of  his  country,  with  the 
gentleman  in  a  natural  and  elegant  manner  that  was  admirably  suit- 
able to  the  forms  of  intercourse  obtaining  in  Court  and  diplomatic 
circles.  ...  So  well,  indeed,  did  he  perform  his  functions  as 
representative  of  a  great  Protestant-German  Power  that  he  was  soon 
looked  up  to  with  pride,  not  only  by  the  Prussian  subjects  in  St. 


244  PRINCE    BISMARCK. 

Petersburg  committed  to  his  care,  but  also  by  all  the  Germans  living 
in  that  capital.  Without  coming  into  conflict  with  our  curt  and 
exacting  domestic  authorities,  Herr  von  Bismarck  contrived  to 
enforce  as  much  respect  for  his  claims  as  was  paid  to  those  of  the 
English  Ambassador  and  other  diplomatists  jealous  of  the  rights  of 
those  under  their  charge.  It  was  little  wonder  that  he  soon  became 
well-known  to  all  the  Germans  throughout  the  (Russian)  Empire. 

"  Perhaps  the  foremost  prophets  of  Bismarck's  mission  were  the 
Baltic-Province  Barons  (of  Esthonia  and  Courland)  who  belonged 
to  the  inner  family  circle  of  the  future  Chancellor,  drank,  and 
talked  politics  with  him,  and  frequently  invited  him  to  hunt  on 
their  estates.  .  .  .  The  Russian  Chauvinists  were  flattered  by  seeing 
that  the  '  true  German  Baron,3  which  Bismarck  affected  to  be, 
followed  with  much  closer  attention  than  any  of  his  colleagues  the 
new  liberal  movement  in  our  Press  and  literature,  and  that  he  shrank 
not  from  the  task  of  learning  as  much  of  our  difficult  language  at 
least  as  enabled  him  to  make  himself  understood  to  people  ignorant 
of  French,  and  accost  the  Emperor  now  and  then  with  a  Russian 
phrase.  But  not  only  in  all  classes  of  society  with  which  he  came  in 
contact  was  he  welcomed  and  beloved ;  our  statesmen  also,  and  those 
who  knew  more  of  him,  recognised  in  him  a  genius  of  extraordinary 
clearness,  if  perhaps  somewhat  eccentric.  Berlin  diplomatists,  of  all 
others,  we  had  never  been  accustomed  to  hear  expressing  views 
different  from  those  of  their  Court,  or  criticising  the  acts  of  their 
Government,  or  betraying  an  inclination  to  pursue  a  policy  of  their 
own.  But  this  was  precisely  what  was  done  by  the  extraordinary 
man,  who  in  everything  seemed  so  different  from  his  predecessors, 
with  an  outspokenness  which  excited  the  admiration  of  the  initiated, 
while  not  exceeding  the  limits  imposed  by  his  position  upon  the 
Minister  of  a  foreign  Court.  Regardless  of  the  fact  that  the  Prince- 
Regent  (of  Prussia)  exhibited  the  most  decided  distrust  and  dislike 
of  France  and  her  Italian  policy,  .  .  .  Herr  von  Bismarck  confessed 
his  conviction  that  the  liberation  of  Italy  from  Austrian  influence 
was  a  European  necessity,  which  only  formed  the  first  stage  in  the 
emancipation  of  Germany  and  Prussia  from  the  patronage  of  Vienna. 
Even  after  the  mobilisation  (of  the  Prussian  army)  in  the  summer 
of  1859,  he  continued  to  maintain  good  relations  with  his  French 
colleague  as  far  as  was  possible  and  fitting  in  the  circumstances,  and 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  245 

sought  to  keep  the  ground  free  for  a  Franco-Busso-Prussian  Alliance. 
And  on  his  leaving  St.  Petersburg,  after  a  stay  of  three  years,  every 
one  was  agreed  that  the  Prussian  Envoy  was  a  man  who  would  havS 
to  play  a  very  considerable  role  in  the  history  of  his  country,  and 
carry  out  a  portion,  at  least,  of  the  programme  which  he  had  always 
avowed  with  unexampled  candour.  It  is  true  that  we  only  knew 
one  point  in  this  programme — the  necessity  of  Germany  and  Prussia 
being  freed  from  Austrian  tutelage.  But  that  was  quite  enough  to 
ensure  for  the  man  who  went  to  the  helm  of  affairs  in  Prussia,  six 
months  after  his  departure  from  St.  Petersburg,  the  sympathies  of 
the  Czar,  his  Chancellor,  and  other  numerous  personages  of  high 
station.  The  great  and  important  part  played  in  Prussian  history 
by  the  Bussian  alliance  for  the  next  fourteen  years  was  most  success- 
fully prepared  by  Herr  von  Bismarck's  activity  at  St.  Petersburg." 

The  "Sketches  of  St.  Petersburg  Society,"  from 
which  we  have  made  the  above  extract,  are  brilliant  and 
interesting  enough  in  their  way ;  but  we  are  A  Court 
sure  that  their  author  will  be  thrown  into  favourite- 
the  shade  when  the  time  comes  for  the  publication  of 
the  social  and  diplomatic  portraits  thrown  off  by  Bis- 
marck himself  during  his  stay  at  St.  Petersburg,  in  the 
manner  of  his  Frankfort  etchings.  Meanwhile,  it  is 
only  from  his  private  letters  that  we  can  judge  of  what 
he  thought  of  men  and  things  in^  Russia,  and  his  esti- 
mate is  invariably  favourable ;  as,  indeed,  it  could  not 
well  have  been  otherwise,  considering  that  he  himself 
was  such  a  favourite  with  all  classes  of  society,  especially 
with  the  Court. 

"  They  are  very  kind  to  me  here,"  he  wrote,  "  but  in  Berlin 
Austria  and  all  the  dear  brothers  of  the  Bund  are  intriguing  to  get 
me  away,  and  yet  I  am  so  well-behaved.  As  God  will,  I  should  like 
to  live  in  the  country  quite  as  well 

"  I  had  to  go  three  successive  days  to  Zarskoe-Selo,  which  takes 


246  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

always  the  whole  day.  I  dined  recently  with  the  Emperor,  dressed 
in  the  clothes  of  four  different  persons,  as  I  was  not  prepared  for 
evening  dress ;  my  get-up  was  very  curious." 

With   the    Empress-Dowager    he    was    an    especial 

favourite,    and   a   few   weeks    after   his  arrival   in    St. 

The  Empress-     Petersburg    he   wrote    from   Peterhof,   the 

Czar's  charming  summer-retreat  on  the  Gulf 

of  Cronstadt : 

"  I  drove  over  early  this  morning  to  say  good-bye  to  the  Empress- 
Dowager,  who  sails  to-morrow.  In  her  amiable  naturalness  of  man- 
ner she  has,  I  think,  something  really  motherly,  and  I  can  speak 
out  to  her  as  though  I  had  known  her  from  a  child.  To-day  she 
talked  for  a  long  time,  and  on  many  subjects,  with  me.  Dressed  in 
black,  she  lay  on  a  couch,  on  a  balcony  looking  out  on  green  trees, 
knitting  a  red-and- white  woollen  shawl  with  long  needles,  and  I  could 
have  listened  to  her  deep  voice  and  true-hearted  laugh  and  scolding 
for  hours,  it  seemed  so  like  home  to  me.  I  had  come  for  a  couple 
of  hours,  and  in  evening  dress ;  but  when  at  last  she  said  that  she 
did  not  want  to  say  good-bye  to  me  yet,  but  that  probably  I  had  a 
lot  to  do,  I  assured  her,  '  Not  the  slightest ; '  and  she  replied,  *  Then 
stay  here,  and  see  me  off  to-morrow.'  I  was  delighted  to  accept  the 
invitation  as  a  command,  for  it  is  charming  here,  and  so  stony  in 
St.  Petersburg." 

Bismarck  was  just  the  sort  of  man  to  find  favour  in 
the  eyes  of  an  autocrat  like  Alexander,  the  Bismarck  and 
Czar  of  all  the  Eussias :  the  Czar* 

"  To-day  (13th  July,  1860)  I  was  invited  to  dinner  here  (at  Peter- 
hof)  The  Emperor  was  very  cordial  at  our  meeting,  embraced 

me,  and  showed  a  sincere  and  unmistakable  pleasure  at  seeing  me 
again."* 

*  Dr.  Busch  has  recorded  the  following  anecdote  which  Bismarck  once 
told  about  his  experiences  at  the  Court  of  Russia :  "  The  Count  was  once 
walking  in  the  summer-garden  at  St.  Petersburg  with  the  Emperor.  They 
came  to  an  open  lawn,  in  the  middle  of  which  stood  a  sentry.  Bismarck 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  247 

Their  last  meeting  had  probably  been  at  Lazienki 
(the  residence  of  the  Czar  at  Warsaw),  where  Bismarck 
wrote  (19th  October,  1859)  : 

"  Yesterday  I  spent  the  whole  day  en  grandeur,  breakfast  with 
the  Emperor,  then  an  audience,  just  as  gracious  as  in  St.  Peters- 
burg, and  very  confidential;  dinner  with  his  Majesty,  theatre  in 
the  evening,  a  most  excellent  ballet,  and  all.  the  boxes  full  of  lovely 
women." 

During  this  autumn  the  Czar  and  the  Prince-Regent 
of  Prussia  met  at  Breslau  to  discuss  the 

In  Poland. 

European  situation  as  affected  by  the  Italian 
war,    and   Bismarck   had    been   commanded  to  accom- 
pany His  Russian  Majesty. 

Tc  his  wife  he  gave  an  amusing  account  of  his 
reception  at  Lazienki,  where  "  what  can  be  done  (for  us) 
is  done,  and  for  amusement-loving  people  it  is  here  like 
being  in  Abraham's  bosom." 

"  So  far  they  have  me.  Early  this  morning  I  was  looking  for 
the  ticket  office  at  the  first  Polish  railway  station,  to  book  on  here, 
when  all  of  a  sudden  a  well-meaning  fate  in  the  form  of  a  white- 
bearded  Russian  General  seized  hold  of  me.  This  angel  is  called  P., 
and  before  I  had  properly  come  to  my  senses,  my  passport  had  been 
snatched  from  the  police,  my  luggage  from  the  custom-house  officers, 

took  the  liberty  of  inquiring  what  he  was  there  for.  The  Emperor  did  not 
know,  and  turned  to  the  adjutant,  and  he  did  not  know.  Then  they 
asked  the  sentinel,  who  said  nothing  but '  Ordered ' — Bismarck  gave  the 
Russian  word  for  it.  This  was  no  help,  and  the  adjutant  was  directed  to 
make  further  inquiries  of  the  guard  and  the  officers.  He  always  got  the 
same  answer,  'Ordered.'  Search  was  made  in  the  military  records,  but 
"nothing  found — there  always  had  been  a  sentinel  there.  At  last  they 
found  an  old  servant  who  remembered  that  his  father,  also  an  old  servant, 
had  once  told  him  that  on  that  spot  the  Empress  Katherine  had  found  an 
early  snowdrop,  and  had  given  orders  to  protect  it  from  being  plucked. 
There  was  no  better  way  of  doing  so  than  by  placing  a  sentry  there,  and 
placed  he  was  at  once." — "  Bismarck  in  the  Franco-German  Watr." 


248  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

and  I  had  .been  transplanted  from  a  slow  to  a  special  train,  and  sat 
with  one  of  this  amiable  gentleman's  cigars  in  my  mouth,  in  an 
imperial  saloon  carriage.  After  an  excellent  dinner  at  Petrikau, 
I  reached  here  and  got  separated  by  the  golden  crowd  from  Alex- 
ander and  my  luggage  My  carriage  was  waiting,  and  the  questions 
which  I  shouted  out  in  several  languages,  as  to  where  I  was  to  stay, 
were  lost  in  the  rattle  of  the  wheels,  with  which  two  fiery  stallions 
galloped  me  off  into  the  night.  For  about  half  an  hour  I  was  driven 
in  mad  haste  through  the  darkness,  and  now  I  am  sitting  here 
in  uniform  and  wearing  the  decorations  which  we  all  put  on  at  the 
last  station.  Tea  is  at  my  side,  a  looking-glass  in  front  of  me,  and 
I  know  nothing,  except  that  I  am  in  the  pavilion  of  Stanislaus 
Augustus  in  Lazienki,  but  where  it  is  situated  I  haven't  an  idea." 

From  Lazienki  Bismarck  went  with  the  Emperor  to 

shoot  in  the  game -stocked  park  of  Castle   Skiernievice, 

or   Skianiawicze,  as   he    writes    it — a   spot 

Hunting. 

he  was  destined  to  revisit  after  the  lapse  of 
a  quarter  of  a  century  under  very  different  circum- 
stances. "  Shot  fallow  deer  for  five  hours,"  he  wrote 
from  Skiernievice  ;  "  then  hunted  four  hares ;  on  horse- 
back for  three  hours.  Did  me  a  world  of  good."  To 
Bismarck  one  of  the  chief  attractions  of  Eussia  was  the 
excellent  sport  it  afforded  him,  and  he  was  frequently 
absent  from  the  capital  in  quest  of  the  elk,  the  bear,  and 
the  wolf.*  Clad  in  his  furs  and  his  seven-league  boots, 

*  Hesekiel  tells  the  following  story  of  Bismarck's  prowess  with  his 
rifle  in  Russia :  "  On  their  return  from  hunting  one  of  the  party  was 
asked, '  How  did  things  go  ? '  and  he  replied,  '  Yery  ill  with  us,  father. 
The  first  bear  trotted  up;  the  Prussian  fired,  and  down  fell  the  bear. 
Then  came  the  second,  and  I  fired,  missed^  and  Bismarck  shot  him  dead 

• 

at  my  very  feet.  Then  came  the  third  bear  ;  Colonel  M.  fired  twice  and 
missed  twice ;  then  the  Prussian  knocked  him  over  with  one  barrel.  So 
Bismarck  shot  all  three,  and  we  could  get  no  more.  It  went  very  ill  with 
us,  father ! ' '  Bismarck  himself,  according  to  Dr.  Busch,  once  told  a 
similar  story.  He  was  one  day,  in  Finland,  in  considerable  danger  from  a 


DIPLOMATIC    CAEEEB.  249 

he  looked  like  a  pristine  denizen  of  those  dark  Slavonian 
forests.  Of  no  Englishman  more  than  of  Bismarck  then 
conld  it  "be  said  that  his  first  remark  on  rising  was, 
"  What  lovely  scenery  !  what  shall  we  kill  to-day  ?  "  "I 
am  only  well  when  out  shooting,"  he  wrote  (March, 
1862) ;  "  as  soon  as  I  get  into  balls  and  the  theatre  here 
I  catch  cold,  and  neither  eat  nor  sleep."  Once  during 
the  French  war  he  said  to  his  cousin,  who  was  com- 
plaining of  not  feeling  very  well:  "When  I  was  thy 
age  "  (his  cousin  was  about  thirty-eight)  "  I  was  quite 
intact,  and  everything  agreed  with  me.  It  was  at  St. 
Petersburg  that  I  got  my  first  shake." 

He  had  not,  indeed,  been  many  weeks  in  the 
Eussian  capital  when  he  wrote  to  his  sister  (June, 
1859) :- 

"  Last  week  I  could  do  nothing,  and  lay  helpless  on  my  back. 
I  have  never  been  really  well  since  January  in  Berlin,  and  annoy- 
ance, climate,  and  cold  have  driven  my  once  trifling  rheumatism  to 

huge  bear,  which  he  could  not  see  plainly  as  it  was  covered  with  snow. 
"  At  last  I  fired,"  he  said, "  and  the  bear  fell,  about  six  steps  in  front  of  Hie. 
He  was  not  dead,  however,  and  was  able  to  get  up  again.  I  knew  what  was 
the  danger,  and  what  I  had  to  do.  I  did  not  stir,  but  loaded  again  as 
quietly  as  possible,  and  shot  him  dead  as  he  tried  to  stand  up." 
Once  he  wanted  to  go  on  a  bear's  hunt  down  the  Dwina  to  Arch- 
angel, but  his  wife  would  not  let  him ;  besides,  he  would  have  been 
obliged  to  take  at  least  six  weeks'  leave.  In  the  woods  up  there, 
he  said,  was  an  incredible  quantity  of  game,  especially  blackcock  and  wood- 
cock, which  were  killed  in  thousands  by  the  Finns  and  Samoyeds,  who 
shot  them  with  small  rifles  without  ramrods,  and  bad  powder.  "  A  wood- 
cock there,"  lie  added,  "  lets  itself,  I  will  not  say  be  caught  with  the  hand, 
but  killed  with  a  stick.  In  St.  Petersburg  they  come  to  the  market  in 
heaps.  On  the  whole  a  sportsman  is  pretty  well  off  in  Russia,  and  the 
cold  is  not  so  bad,  for  every  one  is  used  to  struggling  with  it.  All  the 
houses  are  properly  warmed,  even  the  steps  and  the  porch  as  well  as  the 
riding  schools,  and  no  one  thinks  of  visiting  with  a  tall  hat  in  winter,  but 
goes  instead  in  furs  with  a  fur  cap." — "Franco-German  War" 


250  PBINOE   BISMARCK. 

such  a  pitch,  that  I  have  the  utmost  difficulty  in  breathing,  and 
only  find  it  possible  at  all  after  very  painful  efforts.  My  complaint, 
which  is  rheumatic-gastric-nervous;  was  located  in  the  neighbourhood 
of  my  liver,  and  had  to  be  fought  with  huge  cupping-glasses  as  big 
as  saucers,  cantharides,  and  mustard  all  over  my  body,  until  at  last  I 
succeeded,  after  I  had  almost  been  gained  over  for  a  better  world,  in 
convincing  my  doctors  that  my  nerves  had  been  weakened  by  the 
uninterrupted  anxiety  and  continual  excitement  of  eight  years,  and 
that  further  letting  of  blood  would  in  all  probability  result  in  typhus 
or  imbecility.  A  week  ago  yesterday  it  was  at  its  worst,  but  my 
excellent  constitution  very  rapidly  began  to  recover,  when  I  was 
ordered  to  drink  champagne  in  moderate  quantities." 

In  the  autumn  of  the  same  year  he  returned  to 
Berlin  in  a  very  prostrate  condition,  but  a  fortnight  at 
Baden  brought  him  some  relief : — 

"  My  left  leg  is  still  weak  and  swells  when  I  walk,  and  my  nerves 
have  not  yet  recovered  from  the  iodine  poisoning.  I  still  sleep  badly, 
and  to-day,  after  all  the  people  and  things  I  have  spoken  to  and 
about,  I  am  languid  and  irritated ;  I  don't  know  why.  My  views 
of  life,  however,  have  changed  during  the  last  six  weeks,  for  then 
I  did  not  care  to  live  any  longer,  and  the  people  who  saw  me  here 
then  say  that  they  never  expected  to  have  that  pleasure  to-day. 
'  All  Prussian  ambassadors  die  or  go  mad,'  says  *  *  to  me,  with 
a  look,  which  is  evidence  of  the  truth  of  his  words.  But  so  do 
other  people." 

About  a  year  later  he  wrote  again  from  St.  Peters- 
burg (July,  1860)  :— 

"  My  health  has  been  unexpectedly  good  since  I  have  been  in  my 

own  house I  feel  like  an  old  pensioner,  who  has  finished 

with  the  business  of  this  world,   or  like  a  once  ambitious  soldier 

who  has  reached  the  haven  of  a  good  command.     I 
Dally  habits.  ... 

could    spend   many    happy   years    here    in    ripening 

towards  my  end.  Every  morning  I  am  busy  with  drinking  Carlsbad 
water,  walking,  breakfasting,  and  dressing.  After  that  my  profession 
gives  me  quite  enough  work  to  save  me  from  feeling  a  burden  on  the 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  251 

world.  I  enjoy  my  dinner  immensely,  especially  that  which  I  am 
not  allowed  to  eat.  I  ride  from  eight  to  ten,  par  ordonnance  du 
medicin,  then,  until  twelve,  I  read  newspapers  and  despatches,  with 
the  accompanying  enjoyment  of  common  hospital  'prunes/  " 

As  to  the  nature  of  his  functions,  mode  of  life,  and 
social  environment  in  St.  Petersburg,  let  Bismarck 
again  speak  for  himself: — 

"  As  far  as  business  is  concerned  my  position  here  is  very  plea- 
sant,  but  40,000  Prussians,  to  whom  one  acts  as  police,  lawyer, 
judge,  conscription  agent,  and  provincial  magistrate — twenty  to  fifty 
signatures  daily,  not  counting  passports — involve  a  great  deal  of  work. 
My  house  is  big  enough,  and  well  situated  on  the  Neva ;  three  large 
reception  rooms — one  of  them  with  parquet-floor,- mirrored  doors, 
and  silver  sconces,  I  have  converted  into  my  office." 

And  again,  more  than  a  year  later  (December, 
1860)  :— 

•'  I  have  indeed  very  much  to  do.  We  are  not  at  all  sociable 
here;  my  means  will  not  allow  it.  In  other  houses  I  catck 
cold,  and  generally  speaking  an  income  of  80,000  thalers  con- 
demns a  man  here  to  too  great  economy.*  I  invite  people  to  dinner, 

*  Once  during  the  Franco- German  War,  according  to  Dr.  Busch,  Bis- 
marck asked  General  Werder  (Prussian  representative  at  St.  Petersburg) 
what  every  visit  to  the  Emperor  might  cost  him  now.  "  In  my  tune,"  said 
the  Chancellor,  "  it  was  always  a  pretty  dear  thing,  especially  in  Zarskoe. 
I  had  always  at  that  time  to  pay  fifteen  or  twenty,  sometimes  five-and- 
twenty  roubles,  according  as  I  went  at  the  request  of  the  Emperor  or  on 
my  own  account.  In  the  former  case  it  was  dearer.  The  coachman  and 
footman  who  had  fetched  me,  the  house-steward  who  received  me — and 
when  I  had  been  invited  he  had  his  sword  at  his  side — the  runner  who 
preceded  me  through  the  whole  length  of  the  castle  to  the  Emperor's  room 
— and  that  must  have  been  a  thousand  yards — all  had  to  get  something. 
You  know  of  him,  of  course,  the  fellow  with  the  high  round  feathers  on  his 
head,  like  an  Indian.  He  certainly  earned  his  five  roubles.  And  I  never 
got  the  same  coachman  to  take  me  back  again.  I  could  not  stand  these 
drains,  We  Prussians  had  very  poor  pay— 25,000  thalers  (£3,750)  salaryf 


252  PRINOE   BISMARCK.     • 

i.e.y  to  take  pot-luck  with  me,  but  I  give  no  soirees.  Mourning  pre- 
vents evening  receptions,  theatres,  &c. ;  carriages,  coachmen,  foot- 
men are  all  draped  in  black.  I  have  been  shooting  once,  but  found 
the  wolves  too  clever  for  the  huntsmen ;  still  I  am  very  glad  that 
I  can  stand  it  again." 

"  My  everyday  life  does  not  allow  me  much  rest,  but  claims  me 
from  the  moment  of  my  first  breakfast  cup  until  four,  with  work  of 
all  kinds,  on  paper  and  with  mankind.  Then'  I  ride  until  six ;  after 
dinner,  at  my  doctor's  request,  I  only  approach  the  inkstand  with  the 
utmost  care,  and  in  cases  of  extreme  necessity.  On  the  other  hand, 
I  read  everything,  that  reaches  us  in  the  way  of  despatches  or 
newspapers,  and  at  midnight  I  go  to  bed,  as  a  rule,  amazed  and 
reflective  at  the  extraordinary  claims  which  Prussia  makes  on  her 
ambassadors  in  Russia.* Thank  God  I  now  (Oct  1860) 

8,000  thalers  (£1,200)  for  rent.  No  doubt  I  had  a  house  for  that  as  big 
and  fine  as  any  palace  in  Berlin.  But  the  furniture  was  all  old,  faded,  and 
shabby,  and  if  I  count  in  repairs  and  other  expenses,  it  came  to  quite  9,000 
thalers  (£1,350)  a  year.  I  found  out,  however,  that  I  was  not  expected  to 
spend  more  than  my  salary,  so  I  economised  by  keeping  no  company.  The 
French  Ambassador  had  £12,000  a  year,  and  was  allowed  to  charge  his 
Government  with  the  expense  of  all  company  which  he  could  at  all  consider 
official."  ..."  It  is  the  same  thing  in  Berlin.  A  Prussian  Minister  gets 
10,000  thalers  (£1,500),  while  the  English  Ambassador  gets  63,000  (£9,450), 
and  the  Russian  44,000  (£6,600) ;  then  he  charges  his  Government  with 
the  expense  of  all  official  entertainments,  and  when  the  Emperor  stays  with 
him  he  usually  gets  a  full  year's  extra  salary.  No  wonder  we  cannot 
keep  equal  pace  with  them." — "Bismarck  in  the  Franco- German  War." 
*  Bismarck  once  told  a  story  illustrative  of  the  "  curious  claims  "  made 
upon  him  while  Minister  in  Russia :  "  One  day  there  came  into  our 
Chancery  a  Jew,  who  wished  to  be  conveyed  back  to  Prussia.  But  he  was 
very  ragged,  and  had  particularly  bad  boots.  He  was  told,  yes,  he  should 
be  taken  back.  But  he  wished  first  to  have  another  pair  of  boots,  claimed 
them  as  aright,  and  behaved  so  boldly  and  impudently,  shrieking  and  using 
violent  language,  that  the  gentlemen  of  the  office  did  not  know  what  to  do 
with  him.  Even  the  servants  did  not  feel  safe  with  the  raving  fellow.  At 
last,  when  the  thing  got  too  bad,  I  was  summoned  to  give  aid  in  person.  I 
told  him  he  must  be  quiet,  or  I  would  have  him  locked  up.  He  answered 
defiantly :  *  You  cannot  do  it,  for  in  Russia  you  have  no  such  power.' 
'  We  shall  see,'  said  I.  '  I  am  bound  to  send  you  home,  but  1  feel  no  call  to 
give  you  boots,  though  I  might  have  done  so  had  you  not  behaved  so 
outrageously/  I  then  threw  open  the  window  and  beckoned  to  a  Gorodo- 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  253 

feel  much  better  than  I  did  in  the  spring,  but  I  have  not  yet  very 
much  faith  in  my  health ;  and  court  life  in  St.  Petersburg,  with  its 
balls  till  three  o'clock  every  day,  and  its  never-ending  restlessness, 
is  a  severe  strain  even  on  healthy  men.  After  my  many  wanderings 
about  since  the  beginning  of  '59,  the  feeling  of  once  more  really 
living  with  my  own  family  is  so  pleasant,  that  I  am  scarcely  yet  rid 
of  my  home-sickness ;  any  way,  I  should  like  to  lie  quiet  like  a 
badger  in  his  hole  till  summer  comes  again." 

A  few  months  later  (March,  1861),  he  wrote  :— 

"Altogether  I  am  quite  satisfied  with  my  life  here,  and  find 
the  winter  not  nearly  so  bad  as  I  expected,  and  do  not  desire  any 
change  of  position,  until,  when  God  wills  it,  I  settle  peacefully  in 
Schoenhausen,  or  Reinfeld,  to  let  my  coffin  be  built  without  exces- 
sive haste.  The  ambition  to  become  Minister  leaves  one  now-a-days  for 
a  variety  of  reasons,  which  cannot  all  be  expressed  in  writing ;  in 
Paris  or  London,  I  should  have  a  less  comfortable  existence  than 
I  do  here,  should  have  no  more  voice  in  affairs,  and  a  change  of 
residence  is  half  death.  The  protection  of  200,000  loafing  Prussians, 
one-third  of  whom  live  in  Russia,  while  two-thirds  visit  it  yearly, 
gives  me  enough  to  do  to  save  me  from  being  bored ;  my  wife  and 
children  stand  the  climate  very  well.  I  have  a  number  of  pleasant 
companions,  now  and  then  I  shoot  a  small  bear  or  elk  ;  and  the  last 
290  versts  from  here  is  an  excellent  track  for  sleighing.  I  avoid  going 
into  grand  society  every  day.  for  it  does  not  in  the  slightest  benefit 
the  King's  service,  and  I  cannot  sleep  if  I  go  to  bed  so  late.  One 
cannot  very  well  appear  before  eleven,  most  people  come  at  twelve 

woy,  or  Russian  policeman,  who  was  stationed  a  little  way  off.  My  Jew 
went  on  shrieking  and  scolding  till  the  policeman,  a  big  strong  fellow, 
came  in.  To  him  I  said"  (some  Russian  words,  not  translated),  "and  the 
big  policeman  carried  off  the  little  Jew,  and  put  him  in  prison.  The 
morning  after  next  he  came  back,  quite  a  different  man,  and  declared  him- 
self ready  to  go  without  new  boots.  I  asked  him  how  he  had  got  on  in  the 
meanwhile.  '  Badly— very  badly  ! '  '  What  had  they  done  to  him  ?  '  '  Ah ! 
they  had — they  had  actually — ill-used  him  personally  ! '  I  expressed  my 
regrets,  and  asked  whether  he  would  like  to  make  any  complaint.  He 
preferred,  however,  to  start  off  at  once :  and  I  have  never  heard  of  hint 
since."—"  Our  Chancellor"  (English  e<L). 


254  PRltfCE  BISMARCK. 

and  go  at  two  to  another,  generally  a  supper,  party;  that  I 
cannot  stand  as  yet,  and  perhaps  never  shall  again,  but  that  does 
not  trouble  me,  for  the  tediousness  of  the  rout  is  intenser  here  than 
anywhere  else,  because  people  have  so  few  connections  or  interests 
in  common.  Johanna  goes  out  more  often,  and  is  unwearied  in 
replying  to  all  inquiries  after  my  health,  which  are  like  necessary 
manure  on  the  unfruitful  soil  of  conversation." 


"In  this  fashion/'  wrote  Bismarck  to  his  sister,  in 

describing  his  mode  of  life  at  St.  Petersburg,  "  I  shall 

hold  out  a  loner  time,  on  the  supposition 

The  "natural 

Sdth°epitaiian  that  I  succeed  in  maintaining  the  observant 
standpoint  of  the  natural  philosopher  to- 
wards our  policy."  The  policy  here  referred  to  was  the 
attitude  of  Prussia  towards  the  Italian  war  (of  1859), 
which  filled  Bismarck  with  lively  apprehensions  lest  his 
Government,  after  all,  should  be  induced  to  draw  the 
sword  in  defence  of  undeserving  Austria.  On  the  day 
when  Napoleon  entered  Grenoa,  he  had  written  to  his 
Chief  at  Berlin  :— 


"  But  when  they  want,  at  the  same  time,  to  avail  themselves  of 
the  constitution  of  the  Bund  to  send  a  Power  like  Prussia  under  fire ; 
if  we  are  expected  to  stake  our  lives  and  property  for  the  political 
wisdom  and  thirst  for  action  of  Governments  to  whose  existence  our 
protection  is  indispensable ;  if  these  States  want  to  give  us  the 
directing  impulse,  and  if,  as  a  means  to  this  end,  they  contemplate 
federal  theories  of  which  the  recognition  would  put  an  end  to  all 
independence  of  Prussian  policy ;  then,  in  my  judgment,  if  we  do 
not  want  to  surrender  altogether,  it  will  be  time  to  remember  that 
the  leaders  who  expect  us  to  follow  them  serve  other  interests  than 
those  of  Prussia,  and  that  their  conception  of  the  cause  of  Germany, 
which  they  are  always  talking  about,  is  such  that  it  cannot,  at  the 
same  time,  be  the  cause  of  Prussia." 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  255 

The  news  of  the  battle  of  Magenta  (4th  June) 
reached  him  at  Moscow,*  whither  he  had  gone,  in  con- 
formity, as  he  said,  with  the  principle  that  Moacow  ^ 
"change  is  the  sonl  of  life."  "I  should  Magenta> 
stay  here  a  few  days  longer,"  he  wrote  to  his  wife  on 
the  8th  of  that  month,  "  but  rumours  are  in  circulation 
of  a  great  battle  in  Italy,  which  will  probably  involve 
a  geat  deal  of  diplomatic  work,  so  I  shall  hasten  to  get 
back  to  my  post." 

Back   to   St.  Petersburg   he   accordingly  hastened, 
and    four    days    after    the    battle    of   Sol- 

Solferino. 

ferino  (fought  24th  June)  he  wrote: — 

"  The  Emperor  and  Gortchakoff  come  in  a  few  hours,  and  will 
doubtless  introduce  an  element  of  business  into  the  idyll ;  but  thank 
God,  the  world  looks  a  little  more  like  peace  now  in  spite  of  our 
mobilisation,  and  I  have  less  cause  for  anxiety  with  regard  to  certain 
resolutions.  I  am  sorry  for  the  Austrian  soldiers.  What  commanders 
they  must  have,  to  get  beaten  every  time !  Once  more  on  the 
24th  !  It  is  a  lesson  for  the  Ministers,  who  are  too  obstinate  to  take 
it  to  heart.  I  should  be  less  frightened  of  France  than  of  Austria, 
if  we  were  to  go  to  war.7' 


*  "  The  house  in  which  I  am  writing  is,  strangely  enough,  one  of  the 
few  which  survived  1812 :  old  thick  walls,  as  at  Schoenhausen,  oriental 
architecture,  Moorish  in  style,  with  large  rooms.  .  .  .  Moscow,  from 
above,  looks  like  a  cornfield  :  green  soldiers,  green  cupolas,  and  I  have  no 
doubt  that  the  eggs  on  the  table  were  kid  by  green  hens.  .  .  .  This 
town,  as  a  town,  is  certainly  the  most  beautiful  and  most  original  in  the 
world ;  its  surroundings  are  pleasing,  neither  pretty  nor  ugly.  But  thb 
view  from  the  top  of  the  Kremlin  over  a  whole  panorama  of  houses  with 
green  roofs,  gardens,  churches,  towers  of  unwonted  shape  and  colour, 
most  of  them  green,  red,  or  blue,  generally  crowned  with  a  gigantic  gold 
bulb  (there  are  1,000  of  them,  at  least),  is  of  extraordinary  beauty,  and, 
when  it  is  lit  up  by  the  slanting  rays  of  the  setting  sun,  cannot  easily  be 
matched. 


256  PRINOE   BISMAROK. 

On  hearing  of  the  disaster  to  the  Austrian  arms  at 
Magenta,  Prussia  had  lost  no  time  in  mobilising  her 
army  to  be  ready  for  all  emergencies.  Much,  to  the 
Prussia's  delight  of  Bismarck,  the  Prince-Regent  had 
poUc7'  said  "Nay '''to  the  request  of  the  Grand 
Duke  Albrecht,  who  went  to  Berlin  (12th  April)  to  invite 
the  aggressive  co-operation  of  Prussia  in  dealing  with 
Sardinia ;  but  the  course  of  the  war  had  brought  about 
a  marked  change  of  feeling  no  less  at  the  Court  of  Berlin 
than  throughout  the  nation,  which  now  began  to  dread 
that  France  might  ultimately  turn  her  victories  to 
account  by  attempting  to  seize  the  left  bank  of  the 
Rhine,  and  even  to  re-establish  a  Rhenish  Confederation 
devoted  to  her  interests.  The  policy  of  Prussia  was  one 
of  "  armed  mediation,"  and  may  be  briefly  expressed  in 
the  concluding  clause  of  a  despatch  written  by  her 
Foreign  Minister  (Baron  Schleinitz)  on  the  evening  of 
Solferino,  of  which  Bismarck  received  a  copy. 

"  Supported  by  a  strong  display  of  military  force  we  mean,  at 
the  proper  moment,  to  bring  the  question  of  peace  before  the  Great 
Cabinets,  and  to  proceed  with  our  mediation  on  the  principle  of 
seeking  to  maintain  the  territorial  integrity  of  Austria  in  Italy." 

At  the  same  time  Bismarck  and  Count  Bernstorff 
were  respectively  instructed  to  invite  the  Cabinets  of  St. 
Petersburg  and  London  to  concert  with 
prussia  the  basis  of  mediation,  which  would 
seek  "to  reconcile  the  sovereign  rights  of  Austria  with 
the  just  wishes  of  his  Italian  subjects  " — whatever  that 
meant.  Russia  seemed  to  lend  a  willing  ear  to  these 
proposals,  but  unfortunately  they  were  less  favourably 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  257 

received  by  England,  and  Bismarck  began  to  fear  that 
Prussia,  after  all,  would  be  implicated  in  the  war.  Thus 
he  wrote  to  a  Prussian  diplomatist,  a  week  after  Sol- 
ferino : 

"  Hitherto  I  think  our  policy  has-been  correct,  but  I  look  to  the 
future  with  apprehension.  We  armed  too  soon  and  too  heavily, 
and  the  weight  of  the  burden  which  we  have  laid  upon  ourselves 
is  dragging  us  down  an  inclined  plane.  We  shall  fight  in  the  end, 
just  to  give  the  Landwehr  something  to  do,  for  it  would  be  annoying 
to  send  them  home  again  without  striking  a  blow.  We  shall  then 
not  even  be  Austria's  reserve,  but  on  the  contrary  shall  be  absolutely 
»icrificing  ourselves  for  her  and  shielding  her  from  the  brunt  of 
the  war.  With  the  first  shot  on  the  Rhine,  the  German  war  will  be 
the  main  thing,  because  it  threatens  Paris,  and  Austria  gains  breath- 
ng  space ;  but  she  is  not  likely  to  use  her  freedom  to  help  us  in 
playing  a  brilliant  part.  More  probably  she  will  attempt  to  limit 
the  scope  and  measure  of  our  success  in  such  a  manner  as  to  make 
it  square  with  the  special  interests  of  Austria.  And  if  we  fail,  the 
States  of  the  Bund  will  fall  away  from  us,  like  shrivelled  plums  in 
the  wind,  and  every  sovereign,  whose  residence  supplies  quarters  to 
fche  French,  will  save  himself  like  a  true  father  of  his  people  on  the 
raft  of  a  new  Confederation  of  the  Rhine.  It  may  be  possible  to  find  a 
position  of  agreement  for  the  three  neutral  Great  Powers  ;  our  arma- 
ment, however,  has  been  too  costly  for  us  to  await  the  issue  of  events 
as  patiently  as  England  or  Russia,  and  our  mediation  will  no  more 
create  a  basis  of  peace  for  France  and  Austria  than  square  the  circle. 
Popular  feeling  in  Vienna  is  said  to  be  strongly  against  the  Govern- 
ment, and  to  have  so  far  displayed  itself  as  to  make  the  National 
Anthem  be  hissed.  With  us  also  the  enthusiasm  for  war  seems 
to  be  only  moderate,  and  it  will  be  by  no  means  easy  to  prove  to  the 
people  that  the  war  with  its  attendant  evils  is  an  unavoidable  necessity. 
The  proof  is  too  subtle  for  the  understanding  of  the  Landwehr-man." 

Next  day  (2nd  July)  "  a  cabinet-courier  awoke  him 
with  war  and  peace :  " 

"  Our   policy   is   more   and   more   following  in  Austria's  wake. 
When  once  we  have  fired  a  shot  on  the  Rhine,  there  is  an  end  to  the 

B 


258  PRINCE 

Italo-  Austrian  War,  and  a  Franco-Prussian  one  comes  on  the  scene 

instead,    in   which    Austria,  when  we   have   taken   the   burden   of 

the  war  off  her  shoulders,  will  stand  by  us,  or  not  stand  by  us, 

only    so    far    as    her    own    interests   are   involved. 

reflectioS        -^   ^J   case,    she   certainly  will  never  allow  us  to 


play  the  part  of  very  brilliant  victors.  God's  will 
be  done  !  Everything  in  this  world  is,  after  all,  only  a  question  of 
time  ;  men  and  nations,  folly  and  wisdom,  peace  and  war,  come  and 
go  like  waves,  but  the  sea  remains.  There  is  nothing  on  the  earth 
but  hypocrisy  and  jugglery,  and  whether  it  is  fever  or  grape-shot 
that  tears  away  this  mask  of  flesh,  fall  it  must,  sooner  or  later  ;  and 
then  there  will  manifest  itself  so  strong  a  likeness  between  Prussian 
and  Austrian,  if  they  are  of  equal  height,  as  to  make  it  difficult  to 
distinguish  between  them.  The  wise  man  and  the  fool,  too,  when 
their  bones  are  picked  clean,  look  just  alike.  With  reflections  like 
these  one  soon  gets  rid  of  one's  specific  patriotism,  but  we  should 
indeed  be  in  desperate  case  if  we  depended  on  it  for  our  salvation.  " 

But  the  fears   which  prompted   these  Hamlet-like 

reflections   were  suddenly   dispelled  by  the  surprising 

Peace  of  Villafranca  (llth  July).     Austria's  inveterate 

jealousy  of  Prussia  had  heen  the  salvation 

andait?£San-     of  the  latter  Power.     Prussia  had  put  her 

ing. 

army  in  a  condition  to  strike,  if  necessary  ; 
but  it  would  only  strike  by  order  of  the  Prince-Eegent, 
while  Austria  was  for  saddling  its  activity  with  condi- 
tions tantamount  to  her  exercise  of  supreme  command 
over  it.  The  Prince-Eegent  was  firm,  and  rather  than 
accord  to  him  the  command  of  the  Federal  forces  —  which 
would  naturally  have  increased  the  influence  of  Prussia 
over  the  minor  States,  Francis  Joseph  hastened  to  accept 
the  moderate,  yet  humiliating  conditions  of  Napoleon. 
Eather  than  yield  to  Prussia  on  a  question  of  form, 
Austria  would  cede  to  France  a  portion  of  her  own 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  259 

substance.  Bather  than  risk  the  loss  of  her  predomi- 
nance in  Germany,  she  would  part  with  one  of  her 
Italian  provinces.  And  yet  Francis  Joseph  made  bold 
to  proclaim  that  he  had  been  left  in  the  lurch  by  his 
"natural  ally." 

Napoleon,  on  the  other  hand,  declared  to  his  army 
that  its  victorious  march  had  been  stayed  by  the 
threatening  attitude  of  the  Prussians.  He  had  vowed 
that  he  would  free  Italy  "  from  the  Alps  to  the  Adri- 
atic," but  he  was  quick  to  discern  that  he  could  not  even 
try  to  keep  his  word  without  incurring  the  danger  of 
having  to  fight  on  the  Ehine  as  well  as  in  Venetia ;  and 
therefore,  like  many  a  better  man  before  him,  he  acted 
on  the  maxim  that  discretion  is  the  better  part  of  valour. 
There  is,  indeed,  some  reason  to  believe  that,  at  Villa- 
franca,  Napoleon  sought  to  reconcile  Francis  Joseph  to 
his  fate  by  dropping  hints  about  a  future  coalition  of 
France  and  Austria  against  the  Prussia  which  was 
equally  hateful  to  them  both.  In  any  case  the  Peace 
of  Villafranca  showed  Prussia  that  she  had  made  herself 
the  dupe  of  her  devotion  to  a  jealous  rival ;  but  Bis- 
marck consoled  himself  with  the  reflection  that  his 
country  had  not  fallen  into  the  pit  that  was  prepared 
for  it,  and  that  the  war  had  revealed  military  weaknesses 
on  the  part  of  Austria  which,  when  the  proper  time 
came,  would  render  her  expulsion  from  Germany  by 
Prussia  as  easy  as  her  partial  extrusion  from  Italy  by 
France. 

At  this  time  Bismarck  had  the  reputation  of  being 
little  other  than  the  accomplice  of  Naf  )leon.  Indeed, 
E  2 


260  PftlNCE   BISMARCK. 

his  official  Chief  (Baron  Schleinitz)  is  said  to  have  pr  o- 

nounced  him   "too  much   of  an  idealist  for   the   very 

positive   art    of    politics,    and   an   idealist, 

Bismarck  the 

moreover,    who    wanted    to    drive    Prussia 


partout  into  an  alliance  with  the  nephew  of 
the  first  Napoleon  against  German  blood  (Austria)."* 
The  unity  movement  in  Italy  had  re-awakened  the 
dormant  aspirations  of  the  German  people  in  the  same 
direction,  and  the  Government  of  the  Prince-Eegent 
was  suspected  of  not  being  unwilling  to  purchase  the 
assent  of  Napoleon  to  its  schemes  of  national  regenera- 
tion at  the  price  of  the  left  Ehine-bank,  in  the  same 
way  as  the  promise  of  Nice  had  induced  the  Imperial 
"  champion  of  oppressed  nationalities  "  to  espouse  the 
cause  of  the  Italian  people.  It  was  even  insinuated 
that  Bismarck  bad  transmitted  to  his  Government  offers 
of  this  kind  based  on  a  Frauco-Kussian  agreement,  and 
with  reference  to  this  calumny  he  wrote  (June,  1860)  : 

"  The  Augsburgers  and  Co.  are  still  very  nervous  lest  I  should 
become  Minister,  and  think  they  are  going  to  frustrate  this  by  twit- 
ting me  with  my  Franco-Russian  sympathies.  A  very  high  com- 
pliment, to  be  a  terror  to  the  enemies  of  Prussia  !  For  the  rest,  my 
political  leanings  were  so  thoroughly  sifted  in  the  spring,  both  by 
Court  and  Ministry,  that  it  is  easy  to  see  what  is  in  them,  and  how  I 
expect  to  find  protection  and  strength  in  the  uprising  of  the  national 
spirit.  If  I  have  sold  myself  to  a  devil,  it  is  to  a  Teutonic, 
and  not  a  French  one.f  *  *  .'s  factory  of  lies  could  attack  me 

*  "  "Bismarck  in  Petersburg,  Paris,  and  Berlin"  p.  85.     Leipzig,  1885. 

f  He  had  once  even  successfully  resisted  the  temptation  to  sign  a 
compact  with  a  Teutonic  devil.  When  on  the  eve  of  starting  for  St. 
Petersburg  as  Prussian  minister  there,  he  was  waited  upon  by  an  Austrian 
emissary  in  the  person  of  a  Jew,  named  Lowensteiu.  "  This  Lowenstein," 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  261 

with  greater  effect  on  other  grounds  than  Bonapartism,  if  he  wants 
to  impress  our  Court  as  well  as  the  Augsburgers." 

And  again,  a  couple  of  months  later : 

"  Talking  of  Bonapartists,  it  occurs  to  me  that  now  and  then 
information  reaches  me  that  the  press  is  carrying  on  a  systematic 
campaign  of  calumny  against  my  person.  It  is  said  that  I  have 
openly  supported  Russo-French  suggestions  for  the  cession  of  the 
Rhineland  in  return  for  a  settlement  in  the  interior,  that  I  am  in 
fact  a  second  Borries.*  I  will  give  1,000  Friedrichs  d'or  in  hard  cash 
to  any  one  who  will  prove  that  any  such  Russo-French  offers  were 

said  the  Prince,  "  was  a  secret  agent,  acting  simultaneously  on  behalf  of 
Buol  and  Manteuffel — spying,  executing  commissions,  and  doing  other 
things  of  that  sort.  He  came  to  me  with  a  letter  of  recommendation  from 
Buol.  When  I  asked  him  what  I  could  do  for  him,  he  replied  that '  he 
had  come  to  tell  me  how  I  might  do  a  good  stroke  of  business,  with  a 
profit  of  twenty  thousand  thalers — perhaps  more.'  I  answered,  I  do  not 
speculate,  not  having  the  wherewithal.'  '  Oh,  you  do  not  require  any 
money ;  you  can  manage  it  another  way.'  I  said  I  did  not  understand 
that ;  what,  then,  was  I  to  do  ?  '"Only  to  exert  your  influence  in  St.  Peters- 
burg to  bring  about  a  good  understanding  between  Eussia  and  Austria.' 
I  made  as  though  I  would  think  it  over,  but  could  not  quite  trust  him. 
Lowenstein  then  referred  me  to  his  letter  of  introduction.  I  said  that 
was  not  sufficient,  and  demanded  a  written  promise ;  but  the  Jew  was  too 
cunning  to  give  me  anything  of  the  sort,  and  observed  that  his  letter  was 
'  legitimation  '  enough.  Then  I  turned  rusty,  and  as  he  was  going  away 
told  him  the  plain  truth,  viz. : — that  I  should  not  think  of  doing  what  he 
wanted,  but  felt  greatly  inclined  to  throw  him  down  the  stairs,  which 
were  steep.  So  he  went  off,  but  not  before  he  had  menaced  me  with 
Austria's  wrath."— "  Our  Chancellor"  (English  Ed.). 

*  Herr  von  Borries,  a  Hanoverian  statesman  (born  1802),  who  at  first 
sided  with  the  Liberals  during  the  Revolution  of  1848,  but  afterwards 
ratted  to  the  Aristocrats  and  made  himself  notorious  as  a  reactionary 
minister  of  King  George.  He  was  opposed  to  the  unity  movement,  and 
in  a  sitting  of  the  Second  Chamber  (1st  May,  1860)  even  went  the  length 
of  saying  that  "  resistance  to  the  efforts  of  the  National  Union  must  lead 
to  alliances  between  the  German  princes,  and  may  even  necessitate  compacts 
with  non- German  States,  which  would  only  be  too  glad  of  the  opportunity 
to  interfere  in  German  affairs  " — words  which  evoked  a  storm  of  indigna- 
tion all  over  Germany,  and  made  the  name  of  Borries  a  byeword  ancj.  a 
reproach, 


262  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

ever  brought  to  my  knowledge  by  anybody.  Throughout  my  whole 
residence  in  Germany,  I  have  never  counselled  any  other  course  than 
that  we  should  rely  on  our  own  resources  and  on  the  national 
strength  of  Germany,  which  it  would  be  for  us  to  arouse  in  case 
of  war.  These  quill-driving  simpletons  of  the  German  press  do  not 
in  the  slightest  degree  realise  that,  in  attacking  me,  they  are  doing 
their  best  to  undermine  their  own  efforts.  I  am  told  that  the  origin 
of  these  attacks  is  the  Court  of  Coburg  and  a  literary  man  who 
has  a  personal  spite  against  me." 

That  Napoleon  did  in  reality  cast  longing  eyes 
towards  'the  left  bank  of  the  Rhine,  and  hoped  to 
Napoleon  at  acquire  it  in  the  same  way  as  he  had  pos- 
sessed himself  of  Nice,  was  absolutely 
certain  ;  and  his  visit  to  Baden  in  the  summer  of  1860 
(16th  June)  resulted,  among  other  things,  from  the 
desire  to  sound  the  ground  in  the  direction  of  this 
rapacious  aim.  Yet  the  fact  that  the  Prince-Regent  of 
Prussia  met  the  Emperor  not  alone,  but  in  company 
with  several  of  his  fellow- Sovereigns,  was  rightly  con- 
strued by  the  nation  as  a  "  demonstration  for  the 
integrity  of  German  soil ; "  and  Napoleon  had  no 
choice  but  to  disavow,  in  the  most  unblushing  manner, 
his  well-known  design  to  help  himself  to  a  slice 
of  the  Fatherland.*  It  was  the  first  defeat,  as  one 

*  With  the  Prince-Regent  of  Prussia  were  the  Kings  of  Wiirtemberg, 
Bavaria,  Saxony,  and  Hanover ;  the  Grand  Dukes  of  Baden,  Saxe- Weimar, 
and  Hesse-Darmstadt ;  the  Dukes  of  Nassau  and  Saxe- Coburg- Gotta,,  and 
the  Prince  of  Hohenzollern.  The  conversation  between  Napolecn  and 
the  Prince-Regent  was  duly  recorded  by.  the  latter  and  forwarded  to 
Prince  Albert.  "  From  this  it  appeared,"  according  to  the  Prince-Regent's 
Memorandum  (Life  of  the  Prince  Consort,  vol.  v.,  p.  124),  "  that  the 
Emperor  of  the  French  had  adopted  the  only  course  which  the  tactics  of 
the  Prince-Regent  had  left  open  to  him,  by  at  once  explaining  that  his 
object  in  seeking  the  interview  had  been  to  give  an  earnest  of  his  pacific 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  263 

writer  *  justly  remarks,  which  Napoleon  suffered  at  the 
hands  of  the  future  Kaiser  William ;  and  his  mortifica- 
tion found  vent  in  his  next  speech  from  the  throne 
(4th  February,  1861),  when,  with  that  indignant  air  of 
injured  innocence  which  not  even  the  wolf  in  the  fable 
could  upon  occasion  better  assume,  he  declared  that  a 
great  nation  like  France  was  not  to  be  provoked  by 
threats. 

Following  hard  on  the  meeting  between  Napoleon 
and  the  chief  German  Sovereigns  at  Baden      TheTepiitz 
came  an  interview  at  Teplitz  (July,  1860)       interview- 
between     the     Prince  -  Regent    of     Prussia    and    the 

intentions,  and  to  put  a  stop  to  the  excitement  to  which  a  belief  in  his 
designs  npon  a  portion  of  their  country  had  given  rise  among  the  Germans. 
What  had  happened  as  to  Nice  and  Savoy,  he  said,  was  quite  exceptional, 
and  due  to  the  special  circumstances  of  the  case.  When  he  first  promised  his 
assistance  to  King  Victor  Emmanuel,  he  had  told  him  that  this  annexation 
must  follow  upon  any  material  addition  to  the  Piedmontese  territory 
resulting  from  the  war.  The  assurance  of  peaceful  intentions  was  of 
course  accepted  by  the  Prince- Regent  as  most  satisfactory.  He  quite 
admitted  the  state  of  feeling  in  Germany  to  which  the  Emperor  referred, 
but  at  the  same  time  he  reminded  him  that  the  world  and  himself  were 
now  for  the  first  time  made  aware  of  the  compact  with  Victor  Emmanuel, 
having  had  nothing  before  them  up  to  this  time  but  the  Milan  manifesto, 
and  the  declaration  that  France  desired  no  increase  of  territory  of  any 
kind.  What  had  occurred  since  was  quite  sufficient  to  justify  apprehen- 
sion on  the  part  of  Germany.  The  Emperor,  too,  had  now  appeared  in  the 
field  as  a  general  and  commander-in-chief,  a  circumstance  not  calculated 
to  allay  the  uneasiness  of  the  country.'  '  Nothing,'  the  Emperor  rejoined, 
*  could  be  further  from  his  thoughts  than  to  dissever  any  territory  from 
Germany  and  incorporate  it  with  France.  So  clamorous,  however,  was 
the  outcry  of  the  German  Press,  that  something  must  be  done  to  convince 
Germany  of  his  sincerity.  What  should  this  be?  Nothing,  was  the 
reply,  could  be  easier.  Most  of  the  German  sovereigns  were  in  Baden. 
Let  the  Emperor  tell  them  what  he  had  told  the  Prince-Regent,  and  the 
news  of  his  desire  to  leave  Germany  undisturbed  would  speedily  be  known 
throughout  the  country." 

*  " Bismarck  in  Petersburg,  Paris,  and  Berlin" 


264  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Emperor  of  Austria;  and  Bismarck  was  filled  with 
apprehension  lest  Teplitz  should  turn  out  to  be  another 
Olmtttz.* 

"  According  to  the  newspapers  "  (he  wrote  22nd  August,  1860), 
"  we  made  no  definite  promise  in  Teplitz,  and  our  behaviour  towards 
Austria  will  depend  on  her  giving  us  practical  demonstration  of  her 
good  feeling  towards  us  in  the  domain  of  German  politics.  When 
she  has  done  this,  she  may  count  upon  our  gratitude.  I  should 
be  perfectly  content  with  that;  one  hand  washes  the  other,  and 
when  once  we  have  seen  the  soap  of  Vienna  begin  to  lather,  we  shall 
be  quite  happy  to  return  the  compliment.  Indirect  intelligence, 
which  reaches  us  from  other  courts,  has  an  altogether  different 
import.  If  this  is  correct,  we  have  made  no  written  compact, 
but  pledged  ourselves  verbally  to  stand  by  Austria  under  any 
circumstances,  should  she  be  attacked  by  France  on  the  Italian 
side ;  on  the  other  hand,  should  she  find  herself  compelled  to  attack, 
our  assent  would  be  necessary,  if  she  expected  us  still  to  stand  up 
for  her.  This  version  sounds  less  open  to  objection  than  events 
would  prove  it  to  be.  If  Austria  has  the  certainty  that  we  shall 
step  in  to  uphold  Venice,  she  will  know  how  to  provoke  an  attack 
on  the  part  of  France,  as,  indeed,  it  is  already  asserted  that,  ever 
since  Teplitz,  she  has  been  behaving  boldly  and  defiantly  in  Italy, 
Since  Garibaldi's  expedition,  the  policy  of  Vienna  has  been  to  let 
affairs  in  Italy  get  as  bad  as  possible,  so  that,  when  Napoleon 
himself  finds  it  necessary  to  take  precautions  against  the  Italian 
revolution,  they  may  have  a  pretext  for  intervening  on  all  sides, 
and  effecting  an  approximate  return  to  the  status  quo  ante.  But 
this  calculation  with  and  on  Napoleon  may  prove  very  delusive.  I 
think,  however,  that  since  Teplitz  they  have  given  this  up,  and 
hope  to  attain  their  object  even  in  opposition  to  Napoleon.  The 
restless  and  excited  vehemence  of  Austria's  policy  endangers  peace 

both   ways A   well-informed,  but   somewhat   Bonapartist 

correspondent,  writes  to  me  from  Berlin,  'We  were  beautifully 
done  for  at  Teplitz  in  true  Viennese  fashion,  and  sold  for 
nothing,  not  even  a  mess  of  pottage.'  God  grant  that  he  is  not 
.right!" 

*  See  p.  110,  ante. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  265 

A  few  months  after  the  Teplitz  interview,  the  Eulers 
of  Eussia,  Austria,  and  Prussia  met  at  Warsaw  (October, 
1860)    to    discuss  the  European  situation,     The  Warsaw 
'  and  Bismarck  was  in  the  suite  of  the  Czar.*     B^mTrckand 

the  Prince  of 

The  Prince  of  Hohenzollern  accompanied 
the  Prince-Eegent,  while  Prince  Gortchakoff  and  Count 
Eechberg  were  with  their  respective  Sovereigns.  The 
Prussian  Minister-President  was  in  favour  of  his 
Government  pursuing  a  much  more  energetic  and  inde- 
pendent foreign  policy,  and  in  Bismarck  he  discovered 
j  the  likely  instrument  of  its  success.  With  Bismarck  he 
now  held  several  protracted  and  confidential  interviews, 
sometimes  lasting  deep  into  the  night.  The  field  of 
discussion  embraced  the  whole  of  the  momentous 
political  questions  of  the  day,  and  a  deep  and  indelible 
impression  was  made  upon  Prince  Anthony  by  the 
Titanic  character  of  his  subordinate  in  Eussia.  He  was 
amazed  no  less  at  the  daring  and  far-reaching  scope  of 
Bismarck's  ideas  than  at  the  brilliancy  with  which  he 
defended  them,  his  perfect  mastery  of  all  details,  and  the 
evidence  of  careful  deliberation  that  he  had  given  to 
both  sides  in  every  case.  Prince  Anthony,  however, 
did  not  immediately  realise  his  wish  to  have  the  guid- 
ance of  Prussia's  foreign  policy  intrusted  to  this  formid- 
able and  dauntless  statesman.  But  he  none  the  less 

*  Writing  to  his  sister,  12th  October,  1860,  Bismarck  said: — 
"To-day,  when  I  was  making  preparations  for  my  journey,  I  found 
in  my  writing-case  the  enclosed  ink-smear,  which  I  made  at  Zarskoe,  and 
will  not  keep  from  you.  Since  then  1  have  received  a  summons  to  go  to 
Warsaw,  and  I  obey  with  rather  a  heavy  heart,  since  I  gave  an  evasive 
answer  to  an  invitation  of  the  Emperor  there.  I  am  strong  enough  for 
work,  but  not  for  pleasure," 


PRINGE   BISMARCK. 


enjoyed  the  credit  of  being  the  first  Prussian  Minister 
to  appreciate  the  ability  of  the  future  Chancellor.* 

Soon  after  this  the  death  of  Frederick  William  IV. 
(2nd  January,  1861)  raised  the  Prince-Regent  to  the 
throne  of  Prussia  as  William  L,  and  the  era 
of  Germany's  regeneration  now  dawned. 
Matters  of  foreign  policy  receded  for  the  moment  into 
the  background,  and  the  German  Question  again  began 
to  occupy  the  thoughts  of  all  men — but  of  none  more 
than  the  new  King  of  Prussia.  Though  still  nominally 
retaining  his  post  at  St.  Petersburg,  Bismarck  had 
already  acquired  such  influence  over  His  Majesty  that 
he  might  now  virtually  be  regarded  as  his  counsellor- 
in-chief,  and  it  was  in  this  character  that  he  was  sum- 
moned to  Baden-Baden  in  the  summer  of  1861. 

"  In  Coblence,  and  here  "  (he  wrote  from  Berlin,  Oct.  2nd)  „"  I 
have  been  as  active  as  possible  in  the  cause  of  German  politics,  and, 
as  far  as  the  feeling  of  the  moment  is  concerned,  not  without 
success.  I  wrote  to  you  from  Stolpmiinde  to  your  address  here 
about  the  19th  of  last  month,  and  enclosed  you  the  draft  of  a  short 
paper  which  I  had  delivered  to  the  King  at  Baden.  But  I  have 
now  to  work  out  the  subject  at  greater  length  ...  so  please 
send  me  back  the  enclosure  in  my  letter,  that  I  may  go  on  with  it" 

This  Memorandum  by  Bismarck  on  the  German 
Question  has  not  yet  seen  the  light,  but  there  is  every 
reason  to  believe  that  its  substance  was  conveyed  by 
the  writer  in  the  following  letter,  dated  18th  September, 
above  referred  to : — 

«  Se*  an  interesting  article  by  a  well-informed  writer  in  Nord  und 
Bud,  for  November,  1884,  on  "  Furst  Karl  Anton  von  Hoh&nzollern-Sig- 
mcuringen"  (died  in  June,  1885). 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  267 

"  With  regard  to  the  Conservative  programme,  I  subscribe  to  all 
you  say  about  it.  The  out-and-out  negative  wording  of  its  declara- 
tions of  principle  ought  to  have  been  avoided  from  the  very  first. 

By    merely   remaining   feebly    on   the    defensive   no 

....     ,  .   ,  .  ,       Bismarck  on 

political    party   can    exist,    much   less   gam   ground      the  German 

and  adherents.  Every  party  affects  to  abhor  the 
dirt  of  a  German  Republic,  and  those  who  are  now  practically  be- 
coming our  opponents  are  also  animated  with  the  honest  endeavour 
to  have  none  of  it — none  of  the  dirt  especially.  A  form  of  speech 
which  shoots  so  far  beyond  the  needs  of  the  moment  either  means 
nothing  at  all,  or  else  conceals  what  one  does  not  wish  to  say. 
.  .  .  Among  our  best  friends  we  have  so  many  doctrinaires  who 
expect  Prussia  to  protect  other  (German)  sovereigns  and  countries  to 
the  same  extent  as  she  is  bound  to  do  this  for  her  own  subjects.  But 
this  theory  of  the  solidarity  of  the  Conservative  interests  of  all  (our) 
States  is  a  dangerous  fiction,  so  long  as  there  does  not  prevail  the 
most  complete  and  honest  reciprocity  between  the  aforesaid  countries. 
Carried  out  by  Prussia  alone,  it  would  become  mere  Quixotism,  and 
only  serve  to  weaken  our  King  and  his  Government  in  the  execution 
of  their  own  proper  and  primary  task,  entrusted  by  God  to  the 
Crown  of  Prussia,  which  is  to  safeguard  Prussia  from  wrong  threaten- 
ing her  at  home  or  abroad.  It  is  coming  to  this  with  us,  that  the 
Conservative  party  in  Prussia  will  make  a  fondling  of  the  altogether 
unhistorical,  Godless,  and  lawless  *  sovereignty-swindle '  of  those  Ger- 
man Princes  who  use  our  Confederation  as  a  pedestal  from  which  to 
play  at  European  Powers.  Besides,  our  Government  is  Liberal  in 
Prussia,  Legitimist  abroad  ;  we  protect  the  rights  of  other  Crowns 
more  perseveringly  than  we  do  our  own,  and  become  so  enamoured  of 
the  petty  sovereignties  created  by  Napoleon,  and  sanctioned  by  Met- 
ternich,  as  to  be  blind  to  all  the  dangers  that  will  continue  to 
menace  the  independence  of  Prussia  and  Germany  as  long  as  we 
retain  the  present  absurd  Constitution  of  the  Bund,  which  is  nothing 
but  a  forcing-house  and  hot-bed  of  perilous  and  revolutionary  par- 
ticularism. I  could  have  wished  that,  instead  of  the  vague  side-thrust 
at  the  German  Republic,  it  had  been  openly  stated  in  the  programme 
what  we  desire  to  see  altered  and  established  in  Germany — whether 
by  a  legal  endeavour  to  change  the  Federal  Constitution,  or  by  means 
of  terminable  associations  on  the  pattern  of  the  Zollverein  and  the 


268  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

Coburg  Military  Convention.  It  is  our  twofold  duty  to  testify  that 
the  existing  Federal  arrangement  is  not  our  ideal,  but  that  we  openly 
aim  at  bringing  about  the  necessary  reforms  in  a  legal  manner,  and 
do  not  wish  to  exceed  the  bounds  necessary  for  the  security  and 
welfare  of  all.  A  firmer  consolidation  of  the  military  power  of 
Germany  is  as  essential  to  us  as  our  daily  bread ;  but  we  also  want  a 
new  and  plastic  system  of  Customs,  as  well  as  a  number  of  (other) 
common  institutions  to  shield  our  material  interests  from  the  disad- 
vantages accruing  to  them  by  reason  of  the  unnatural  configuration 
of  the  Federal  frontiers  in  the  interior  of  Germany  itself.  Nor  should 
we  leave  any  doubt  that  we  are  willing  to  promote  the  achievement 
of  these  changes  in  a  serious  and  honest  spirit.  Moreover,  I  cannot 
see  why  we  should  so  primly  shrink  from  the  idea  of  the  people  being 
represented  either  in  the  Diet  or  in  a  Customs  and  Union  Parliament. 
An  institution  which  has  now  a  legitimate  place  in  every  German 
State,  and  which  even  we  Conservatives  in  Prussia  could  now  scarcely 

do  without,  cannot  surely  be  combated  by  us  as  revolutionary 

He  might  allow  the  nation  to  be  represented  in  a  very  Conservative 
sense,  and  yet  earn  the  thanks  of  the  Liberals  for  it."* 

In  conformity  with  these  emphatic  views  of  Federal 
reform  he  had  written  in  the  previous  year  (February, 
1860)  to  a  Prussian  diplomatist : — : 

"  Out  openly  and  boldly  with  our  claims — they  are  too  well  justi- 
fied not  to  win  eventual,  although  perhaps  dilatory  recognition ;  and 
the  minor  States,  sovereign  by  the  grace  of  the  Rhine-Bund  Decree 


*  Compare  this  with  what  Bismarck  said  to  a  Liberal  friend,  Herr  von 
Unruh  ("  Erinnerungen  aus  meinem  Leben,'"1  before  quoted),  during  the 
Italian  War.  Talking  of  the  subserviency  of  the  minor  States  to  Austria, 
he  remarked  that  "  there  was  only  one  ally  for  Prussia,  if  she  knew  how 
to  win  and  deal  with  it,  and  that  was — the  German,  people  !  "  Herr  von 
Unruh  expressed  surprise  to  hear  such  sentiments  come  from  the  lips  of  an 
anti-democratic  man  like  Bismarck.  "  Well,"  rejoined  the  latter,  "  I  am 
still  the  same  Junker  I  was  ten  years  ago,  when  we  became  acquainted  in 
the  Chamber ;  but  I  should  have  no  eyes  and  no  brains  in  my  head,  if  I  did 
jnot  clearly  make  out  the  actual  state  of  our  affairs/' 


DIPLOMATIC    G ARE  EH.  269 

and  Deed  of  the  Diet,  cannot  permanently  maintain  their  particu- 
larism against  the  tide  of  the  time.  It  may,  like  my  own  recovery, 
have  from  time  to  time  to  endure  a  check  or  a  relapse  ;  but,  on  the 
whole,  it  glides  onwards  directly  we  courageously  will,  and  are  no 
longer  ashamed  of  our  will,  but  state  openly  in  the  Diet  and  the 
Press,  and  above  all  in  our  own  Chambers,  what  we  want  to  bring 
about  in  Germany,  and  what  the  Bund  has  been  for  Prussia  thus  far  : 
a  nightmare  and  a  noose  about  our  neck,  with  the  end  in  hostile 
hands  which  are  only  waiting  for  an  opportunity  to  tighten  it.  ..." 

Bismarck's  visit  to  Prussia  on  business  connected 
with  the  solution  of  the  German  Question  was  marked 
by  his  attendance  at  what,  to  him,  was  a  very 

i  .    •.  ,        .        . «  *    T  At  the  corona- 

high    and    significant    ceremony.          1    am     tion  of  King 

really  home-sick,"  he  wrote  from  Berlin  (2nd 
October,  1861),  "for  my  house  on  the  English  quay 
with  the  tranquilising  view  on  the  ice  of  the  Neva. 
We  shall  probably  have  to  be  in  Konigsberg  by  the 
13th/'  What  took  him  to  Konigsberg  (the  West- 
minster of  Prussia)  was  the  coronation  of  William  I., 
which  was  solemnised  with  much  pomp  and  circum- 
stance on  the  18th  October.  On  that  day  the  decadent 
doctrine  of  divine  right  received  fresh  assertion  from 
King  William,  who,  like  the  founder  of  his  royal  line, 
placed  the  crown  upon  his  own  head  in  token  that  he 
held  this  symbol  of  sovereignty  direct  from  the  King 
of  Kings.  It  was  meet  that  in  Menzel's  large  historical 
painting,  commemorative  of  this  singular  scene,  so 
ardent  a  champion  of  kingship  by  the  grace  of  God  as 
Bismarck  should  form  a  conspicuous  object.  But  as 
the  Prince-Eegent  now  became  a  King,  so  did  his  Envoy 
at  the  same  time  bloom  out  into  a  new  dignity.  "  It 


270  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

was  in  the  castle-yard  of  Konigsberg  in  1861,"  said 
Bismarck  once,  "  that  I  first  became  an  Excellency."* 
From  the  Castle  Chapel  of  Konigsberg  to  the  Hall  of 
Mirrors  at  Versailles,  from  the  crowning  of  the  King  to 
the  making  of  the  Kaiser,  there  was  to  elapse  a  period 
of  only  ten  short  years — a  decade  fruitful  of  more 
stupendous  and  significant  events  than  had  ever  before 
been  crowded  into  an  equal  space  of  brief  historic 
time. 

But  even  before  he  had  been  formally  invested  with 
the  insignia  of  royalty,  King  William  had  already  begun 
Military  ^°  sow  ^e  see^s  °^  those  events — and  very 
prickly  seeds  they  were,  too,  in  the  shape  of 
bayonet-bristling  battalions.  The  mobilisation  of  the 
Prussian  army  during  the  Italian  war  had  revealed 
grave  defects  both  in  point  of  organisation  and  numbers, 
and  by  the  summer  of  the  following  year  (1860)  the 
Prince-Eegent — every  inch  of  him  a  soldier — had  devised 
a  thorough  scheme  of  military  reform.  The  pursuit  of 
an  energetic  German  policy  was  all  very  well;  it  was 
the  wish  of  every  Prussian  patriot ;  but  it  was  only 
possible  with  a  vastly  increased  and  more  efficient  army 
at  the  back  of  the  Government.  Still,  while  all  were 
agreed  as  to  the  end,  there  was  a  most  discordant 
difference  of  opinion  with  respect  to  the  means.  The 

*  "  I  became  an  Excellency  first,"  he  once  said,  "  in  the  castle-yard  at 
Konigsberg  in  1861.  I  wus  one  in  Frankfort  certainly  ;  not  a  Prussian, 
but  a  Confederation  Excellency.  The  German  Princes  had  decided  that 
every  Ambassador  from  a  Confederated  Parliament  must  be  an  Excel- 
lency. However,  I  did  not  concern  myself  much  about  it,  and  I  have  not 
thought  much  of  these  matters  since.  I  was  a  man  of  rank  without  the 
title."— Busch. 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  271 

Lower  Chamber,  in  which  the  Progressist  or  ultra- 
Liberal  party  had  the  predominance,  was  willing  enough 
to  grant  extraordinary  estimates,  once  and  for  all,  to 
cover  the  King's  military  reforms ;  but  it  would  not 
hear  of  the  new  forces  being  made  a  permanent  and 
incontrovertible  item  in  the  war-budget. 

It  was  this  divergence  of  view  which  inaugurated 
that  "  Conflict"  destined  to  rage  with  more  or  less  fury 
for  six  long  years,  and  expose  Prussia  no 
less  to  the  danger  of  civil  war  than  to  the     "Parliament 

tamer. 

risk  of  disruption  by  the  foreigner.  At  first 
the  Crown  seemed  to  have  the  worst  of  it.  King 
William  began  to  reap  the  harvest  of  that  "  New 
(Liberal)  Era  "  which  had  so  promisingly  dawned  under 
his  rule.  The  foes  that  thwarted  him  were  of  his  own 
creating.  He  had  a  Parliament  which  was  too  obstinate 
to  comply  with  the  demands  of  his  Cabinet,  and  a 
Cabinet  that  was  too  timid  to  break  the  will  of  his 
Parliament.  So  in  March,  1862,  the  first  stage  of  the 
conflict  was  reached  by  the  dissolution  of  the  one,  and 
the  dismissal  of  the  other.  The  chief  of  the  dismissed 
Cabinet  was  Prince  Anthony  of  Hohenzollern,  and  now 
again,  as  in  I860,*  he  earnestly  recommended  the  King 
to  appoint  Herr  von  Bismarck  his  successor. 
His  Majesty  felt  inclined  to  act  on  the 
suggestion,  and  summoned  his  Envoy  at  St.  Peters- 
burg to  his  side.  In  what  frame  of  mind  Bismarck 
came  to  Berlin  will  appear  from  the  following  letter  to 

•  See  p.  265,  ante. 


272  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

his  sister,  written  a  month  or  two  previously  (January, 

1862)  :- 

"  You  write  in  your  last  letter  of  indiscreet  opinions  which  *  * 
has  expressed  in  Berlin.  He  has  no  tact  and  never  will  have,  but  I 
do  not  think  that  he  has  any  deliberate  enmity  towards  me.  Nor  does 
anything  happen  here  which  everybody  may  not  know.  If  I  still 
wished  to  make  a  career,  it  would  doubtless  be  the  very  thing  for 
me,  if  something  very  much  to  my  discredit  were  reported  ;  then  at 
least  I  should  return  to  Frankfort ;  or  if  I  were  thoroughly  lazy  and 
pretentious  for  eight  years,  that  would  aid  me.  It  is  too  late  for 
me  to  do  that,  and  so  I  continue  to  perform  my  duty  in  a  homely, 
jog-trot  sort  of  way.  Since  my  illness,  I  have  suffered  so  from 
mental  languor,  that  I  have  lost  all  the  elasticity  I  once  possessed 
for  a  stirring  life.  Three  years  ago  I  might  have  made  a 
useful  minister,  but  now  I  only  think  of  myself  as  a  sickly  circus 
rider.  I  have  some  years  more  to  stay  in  the  service,  if  I  live  long 
enough.  .  .  .  The  present  redistribution  of  offices  leaves  me 
cold.  I  have  a  superstitious  fear  of  expressing  a  wish  on  the 
subject  now,  and  regretting  it  afterwards  in  the  light  of  experience. 
I  should  feel  neither  joy  nor  sorrow  in  going  to  London  or  Paris, 
or  in  staying  here,  as  it  may  please  God  and  his  Majesty  ;  whether 
the  one  or  the  other  is  done,  neither  our  policy  nor  I  will  grow  any 
the  fatter  for  it.  Johanna  is  anxious  to  go  to  Paris,  because  she  thinks 
the  climate  will  be  better  for  the  children.  But  sickness,  like  mis- 
fortune, comes  everywhere,  and  we  survive  it  with  God's  help,  or 
bow  to  it  in  obedience  to  His  will ;  the  locality  makes  no  difference. 
I  am  quite  willing  that  *  *  should  have  any  post ;  he  possesses  the 
right  material  for  it.  I  should  be  ungrateful  both  towards  God  and 
man,  if  I  declared  that  I  did  not  get  on  well  here,  and  was  anxious 
for  a  change.  The  thought  of  the  Ministry  makes  me  shudder  as  much 
as  a  cold  bath.  I  would  rather  go  to  any  vacant  post,  or  back  to  Frank- 
fort— even  to  Berne,  where  I  should  really  like  to  live.  But  if  I  am 
to  leave,  I  should  like  to  hear  about  it  soon.  .  .  .  After  several  in- 
terruptions I  have  read  this  letter  over  again,  and  find  that  it  gives 
a  hypochondriacal  impression  ;  but  this  is  not  correct.  I  feel  neither 
dissatisfied  nor  tired  of  life,  and  after  a  searching  examination  can 
discover  no  ungratified  wish,  except  that  I  should  like  it  to  be  10 
degrees  warmer,  and  to  have  paid  50  visits,  which  are  a  burden  to  no  ft." 


DIPLOMATIC  CAREER.  273 

Shortly  before  leaving  St.  Petersburg  he  again  wrote 
(7th  March,  1862):- 

"  I  have  just  received  a  letter  from  *  *  ,  who  thinks  that  he 
is  to  be  ordered  here,  but  would  prefer  to  go  to  Paris  ;  he  holds  out 
the  prospect  of  London  to  me,  and  I  am  getting  pretty  well  used  to 
the  idea.  Letters  from  Prince  *  *  say  that  *  *  is  to  be  recalled, 
and  that  I  am  to  succeed  him ;  I  do  not  think  that  this  is  likely, 
and  I  should  decline  it,  were  it  offered.  Apart  from  all  political 
disadvantages,  I  do  not  feel  well  enough  for  so  much  excitement  and 
work.  This  reflection,  too,  causes  me  some  anxiety  when  Paris 
is  offered  me ;  London  is  quieter.  If  climate  and  the  children's 
health  had  not  to  be  considered,  I  should  without  hesitation  prefer 
to  remain  here.  Berne  is  another  fixed  idea  of  mine  ;  slow  places 
with  charming  surroundings  suit  old  people ;  only  there  is  no 
shooting  there,  for  I  don't  care  about  climbing  after  chamois." 

Soon  after  this  he  was  summoned  to  Berlin  on  the 
dissolution  of  the  Hohenzollern  Cabinet,  and  thus  wrote 
to  his  wife  (17th  May) : — 

"  The  future  is  just  as  uncertain  as  in  St.  Petersburg.  Berlin 
stands  rather  to  the  front ;  I  take  no  steps  either  for  or  against  it, 
but  I  shall  drain  a  flagon  when  I  have  my  credentials  for  Paris  in 
my  pocket.  No  mention  is  made  just  now  of  London,  but  things 
may  change  once  more.  To-day  I  unveil  Brandenburg,*  then  I  go 
to  *  *  ,  and  dine  with  *  *  .  I  have  been  the  whole  day  in 

*  This  reference  finds  its  explanation  in  an  anecdote  told  by  Hesekiol, 
which  shows  how  near  Bismarck  had  already  been  caught  for  the  ministry  : 
"  On  the  17th  May  the  statue  of  Count  Brandenburg  was  unveiled  on  the 
Leipziger  Platz,  in  the  presence  of  King  William.  At  that  time,  as  it 
may  be  said,  rumours  of  a  Bismarck  ministry  were  in  the  air.  Bismarck 
was  present.  When  the  cover  of  the  statue  had  fallen,  amidst  the  strains 
of  the  '  Hohenf riedberg  March,'  Prince  Charles,  the  King's  brother,  ad- 
vanced and  shook  him  by  the  hand,  with  a  '  Good  morning,  Bismarck ! ' 
'  Salute  the  new  Minister-President ! '  said  a  member  of  the  former 
Manteuffel  ministry,  in  a  very  animated  manner,  to  a  representative  of 
the  '  New  Era.'  Acclamations  for  the  King,  and  a  flourish  from  the 
trumpeters  of  the  Cuirassiers,  responded  to  the  appeal." 

8 


274  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

conference  with  the  Ministers,  and  find  the  gentlemen  in  no  more 
harmony  with  one  another  than  their  predecessors  were." 

The  King  strongly  pressed  him  to  accept  office  there 
and  then,  but  somehow  or  other  he  contrived  to  get  a 
Minister  at  little  further  breathing-space  before  entering 
into  the  much-dreaded  ministerial  harness. 
Perhaps  the  most  cogent  reason,  which  he  himself  urged, 
in  favour  of  a  brief  respite,  was  the  necessity  for  his 
making  a  personal  reconnaissance  in  Paris  before  mar- 
shalling his  forces  for  the  grand  advance  that  he  had 
so  long  been  meditating.  Meanwhile,  therefore,  Prince 
Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen  was  made  chief  of  the  new 
Cabinet,  which  would  do  its  best  to  impose  the  royal 
will  on  the  Landtag  with  regard  to  military  reform 
while  the  real  "  Parliament- Tamer  "  was  completing  his 
diplomatic  training  on  the  banks  of  the  Seine,  and 
gathering  information  as  to  the  mental  disposition  of  a 
possible  foe  in  the  future.  To  his  wife  he  wrote  (23rd 
May,  1862)  :— 

"  You  have  by  this  time  seen  in  the  newspapers  that  I  am  nomi- 
nated for  Paris ;  I  am  very  glad  of  it,  but  there  is  still  a  shadow  in 
the  background.  I  was  as  good  as  caught  for  the  Ministry.  As 
soon  as  I  can  get  away,  to-morrow  or  the  day  after,  I  start  for 
Paris.  But  I  cannot  yet  direct  our  '  uncertain '  baggage  to  be  sent 
there,  as  I  should  not  be  surprised  if  in  a  few  months  or  weeks 
I  were  recalled  and  kept  here.  I  cannot  come  and  see  you  before 
I  go,  as  I  want  first  of  all  to  take  possession  in  Paris.  They  will 
no  doubt  find  another  President  for  the  Ministry  as  soon  as  I  am 
out  of  their  sight.  Nor  am  I  going  to  Schoenhausen,  all  from  fear 
lest  they  should  still  lay  hold  of  me  again.  Yesterday  I  rode  about 
for  five  hours  as  major,  and  received  my  nomination  for  Paris 
while  on  horseback.  I  have  the  bay  mare  here,  she  is  my  joy  and 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  275 

recreation  in  the  Thiergarten ;  I  am  going  to  take  her  with  me 

to  Paris They  are  all  plotting  to  keep  me  here,  and 

I  shall  be  very  thankful  when  once  I  have  gained  a  resting  place 
in  the  garden  by  the  Seine,  and  have  a  hall-porter  who  for  some 
days  will  let  no  one  in  to  me.  I  do  not  know  yet  whether  I  can 
send  our  things  on  to  Paris,  as  it  is  quite  possible  that  I  should  be 
recalled  before  they  arrive.  I  am  rather  attempting  flight  than 
taking  up  my  abode  in  a  new  place.  I  have  had  to  put  my  foot 

down  very  firmly  to  escape  at  all  from  the  hotel  life  here 

In  the  course  of  June  it  will  have  to  be  decided  whether  I  am  to 
come  back  before  the  end  of  the  summer  sitting  of  the  Landtag, 
or  whether  I  am  to  stay  in  Paris  longer,  and  long  enough  for  you 
to  settle  there.  I  will  do  what  I  can  to  arrange  that  you  come  to 
Paris,  if  only  for  a  short  time,  and  without  an  establishment,  just 
to  have  seen  it.0 

To  Paris  he  hastened,  and  sent  home  the  following 
account  of  his  first  experiences  on  the  Seine  (1st  Jane, 
1862) :— 

"To-day  I  was  received  by  the  Emperor,  and  presented  my 
credentials ;  he  received  me  with  kindness,  and  looks  very  well. 
He  has  grown  somewhat  stouter,  but  is  by  no  means  so  fat  and  aged 
as  the  caricatures  make  him  out.  The  Empress  is  still  one  of  the 
most  beautiful  women  I  have  ever  seen,  in  spite  of 

St.  Petersburg.     She  looks  prettier  than  ever  now.*      Experiences 

on  the  Seine. 
The  whole  thing  was  very  official  and  ceremonious ; 

we  were  fetched  in  a  court  carriage  by  the  master  of  the  cere- 
monies, and  very  soon  I  shall  have  a  private  audience.  I  have 
a  yearning  for  business,  for  I  don't  know  what  to  do  with  myself. 
To-day  I  dined  alone,  the  young  men  were  out ;  the  whole  evening 
it  rained,  and  I  was  alone  in  the  house.  Whom  should  I  visit  1 
In  the  middle  of  this  huge  Paris  I  am  more  lonely  than  you  are 
at  Reinfeld,  and  I  sit  here  like  a  rat  in  a  deserted  house.  My 

*  "  The  Empress,"  he  wrote,  a  few  days  later,  "  has  become  a  little 
stouter,  prettier  than  ever  in  consequence,  and  always  very  amiable  and 

gay." 

8    2 


276  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

only  pleasure  has  been  to  dismiss  niy  cook  on  account  of  overcharges.* 
You  know  how  forbearing  I  am  on  this  point,  *  *  was  a  child  to 
it.  In  the  meantime  I  feed  at  a  cafe.  How  long  it  is  going  to  last, 
God  knows.  In  from  eight  to  ten  days  I  shall  probably  receive  a 
telegraphic  summons  to  Berlin,  and  then  it  will  be  all  over  with 
song  and  dance.  If  my  enemies  only  knew  how  great  a  personal 
favour  their  victory  would  confer  on  me,  and  how  heartily  I  wish 
they  will  win  it,  *  *  would  then,  no  doubt,  do  his  best  out  of  mere 
malice  to  bring  me  to  Berlin.  You  cannot  have  a  greater  aversion 
to  the  Wilhelmstrasse  than  I  have  myself,  and  unless  I  am  con- 
vinced that  it  must  be,  I  shall  not  go  back.  But  I  should  consider 
it  cowardice  and  treachery  to  leave  the  King  in  the  lurch  on  the 
plea  of  illness.  If  it  is  not  to  be,  then  God  will  let  the  seekers  hunt 
up  another  *  *  who  will  serve  as  a  saucepan  lid.  If  it  is  to  be, 
then,  forward  !  as  our  coachmen  used  to  say.  Tn  that  case  we  shall 
probably  spend  next  summer  at  Schoenhausen.  Hurero  !  I  am  now 
going  to  my  large  bed,  as  broad  as  it  is  long,  the  only  living  creature 
in  the  whole  storey,  and  I  do  not  think  any  one  lives  on  the  ground 
floor." 

And   again,    a  fortnight  later   (16th  June),    to  his 
sister : — 

"  My  barometer  is  still  always  at  *  changeable/  as  it  has  been  for 
some  time,  and  will  remain  so  for  a  long  while,  whether  I  stay 
here  or  in  Berlin.  At  any  rate,  I  hope  there  is  rest  in  the  grave. 
Since  my  departure  I  have  not  heard  a  single  word  from  any  one  on 

the  Ministerial  Question I  shall  quietly  wait  till  the 

end  of  June  ;  and  then,  if  I  don't  know  what  is  to  become  of  me, 
I  shall  urgently  request  that  the  matter  be  settled,  so  that  I  can 
establish  myself  here.  If  I  see  any  prospect  of  staying  here  till 
January,  I  think  I  shall  fetch  Johanna  in  September,  although 
to  settle  down  in  one's  own  house  for  four  months  only  is  always 
provisional  and  uncomfortable.  In  packing  and  unpacking  one  breaks 

*  "My  servants,"  he  wrote,  "consist  of  Limberg,  a  Russian;  an 
Italian  Fazzi,  who  was  with  Stolberg  in  Morocco  as  footman ;  three  French- 
men (chancellerie- servant,  coachman,  cook);  and  a  Kur-Hessian  with  a 
Belgian  wife  as  porter." 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  277 

glass  and  china  worth  a  small  fortune.  After  my  wife  and  children, 
what  I  miss  most  here  is  my  bay  mare.  I  have  tried  some  hired 
hacks,  but  I  would  rather  never  ride  again.  The  house  is  well  situated, 
but  it  is  dark,  damp,  and  cold.  The  sunny  side  is  taken  up  with 
staircases  and  non  valeurs,  every  room  looks  towards  the  north,  and 
the  house  smells  of  damp  and  sewers.  Not  a  single  piece  of  furniture 
is  set  out,  and  there  is  not  a  single  corner  where  one  would  care  to 
sit.  Three-quarters  of  the  house  is  all  locked  and  covered  up  like 
the  '  best  room,'  and  could  not  be  made  ready  for  daily  use  without 
greatly  upsetting  all  arrangements.  The  maids  sleep  on  the  third  storey > 
the  children  on  the  second ;  the  first  and  principal  storey  contains, 
besides  the  bed-room  with  its  huge  bed,  one  old-fashioned  reception 
room  (style  1818)  after  another,  with  many  staircases  and  ante-rooms. 
Existence  is  only  possible  on  the  ground-floor,  towards  the  north, 
looking  on  the  garden,  in  which  I  warm  myself  when  the  sun  shines, 
which  is  at  the  most  only  a  few  hours  two  or  three  times  a  week. 

It  was  in  this  way  likewise  that  Hatzf eld  and  Pourtales  existed 

here,  but  they  died  in  consequence  in  the  flower  of  their  years, 
and  if  I  stay  in  the  house  I  shall  also  die  before  I  want  to.  I  would 
not  care  to  live  in  it  free  of  charge,  simply  on  account  of  the  smell." 


Bismarck  found  the  Prussian  Embassy  in  London  as 
little  to  his  mind  architecturally  as  his  own  desolate 
mansion  in  Paris,  and  "I  was  quite  miserable  at  the 
thought  of  being  crammed  in  there."  But  visit  to 
"  though  the  Embassy  is  my  horror,  ...  I 
should  like  to  have  stayed  there  a  few  days  longer,  there 
were  so  many  handsome  faces  and  handsome  horses  to 
be  seen."  This  compliment  to  the  attractions  of  Hyde 
Park  is  quoted  from  a  letter  of  Bismarck's  to  his  wife, 
describing  a  trip  he  had  made  to  London  during  the 
time  of  the  Exhibition  (July,  1862).  Though  his  stay 
in  London  only  lasted  a  few  days  he  made  the  very  best 
of  his  opportunities,  and  even  turned  his  attention  to 


278  PEINQE   BISMARCK. 

the  social  condition  of  the  working  classes.*  Nor  did 
he  fail  to  see  and  converse  with  some  of  the  political 
chiefs  of  the  hour.  The  Prince- Consort,  who  always 
keenly  watched  the  course  of  German  politics,  had  died 
in  the  previous  December ;  and  the  man  who,  after  him, 
probahly  knew  most  of  continental  affairs,  was  Lord 
Palmers  ton. 

The  Premier  was  anything  but  an  ardent  admirer  of 

Prussia,  but  he  listened  to  the  talk  of  her  representative 

in  Paris,  and  had  his  own  thoughts  about  it.     And  so 

also  did  England's  great  "Imperial  Minister" 

to  be   (then  the  Chief  of  the  Opposition), 

to    whom    Bismarck    was    introduced    by 

Baron    Brunnow   at  the    Russian  Embassy.      To    Mr. 

Disraeli     the    Prussian    Envoy   unbosomed  himself  in 

a  tale   which   the   great    Tory    Leader    hesitated   not 

to  describe    as    the  "  mere    moonshine    of    a    Grerman 

baron."  f     Bismarck's   frankly    expressed   views    about 

*  Speaking  in  the  E/eichstag  on  the  Socialist  Law  (1878),  he  said : — 
"  Similarly,  I  am  by  110  means  yet  convinced  that  the  notion  of  subvention- 
ing  productive  associations  by  the  State  is  an  objectionable  one.  It  has 
seemed  to  me — perhaps  the  impression  was  conveyed  to  me  by  Lassalle's 
reasonings,  or  perhaps  by  my  experiences  in  England,  during  my  stay 
there  in  1862 — that  a  possibility  of  improving  the  working  man's  lot 
might  be  found  in  the  establishment  of  productive  associations,  such  as 
exist  and  flourish  in  England."  On  another  occasion,  Bismarck  regaled 
his  guests  with  a  reminiscence  of  his  visit  to  London.  "  The  Chief," 
writes  Dr.  Busch,  "  then  told  how  in  1863  (mistake  for  1862  ?  )  when 
garotters  infested  London,  he  had  often  had  to  pass  after  twelve  o'clock 
at  night  from  Regent  Street  to  his  house  in  Park  Street,  through  a 
lonely  lane  where  there  was  nothing  but  stables  and  heaps  of  horse  litter. 
To  his  horror  he  read  in  the  papers  that  several  such  attacks  had  taken 
place  in  that  very  lane." 

t  This  account  of  Bismarck's  meeting  with  Mr.  Disraeli  was  furnished 
to  us  by  the  late  Lord  Ampthill,  who  was  present  at  the  dinner  party 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  279 

the  regeneration  of  Germany  were  regarded  by  Mr. 
Disraeli  with  much  the  same  smiling  commiseration  as 
the  world  had  accorded  to  the  writer  of  "  Alroy's  "  own 
romancing  about  the  repatriation  of  the  Jews.  For  the 
rest,  the  two  statesmen  were  favourably  impressed  with 
each  other;  and  thus  between  minds  so  essentially 
different  in  structure,  but  yet  so  similar  in  some  of  their 
methods,  there  was  laid  the  foundation  of  that  sympathy 
which  was  destined  to  have  a  subtle  yet  decided 
influence  on  European  affairs,  and  to  find  open  expres- 
sion in  the  singular  drama  of  after  years  to  be  known 
as  the  Congress  of  Berlin.* 

From    June    till    September,    Bismarck's    stay    in 
Paris    merely    resembled   the    summer    sojourn    of    a 
swallow ;  and,  like  a  swallow,  he  flew  about     A  8waiiow'8 
revelling  in  the  beauties  of  la  belle  France, 
of  that  lovely  France  which  his  policy  was  still  to  strew 
with  havoc  and  hideous  desolation. 

given  by  Baron  Brunnow  in  honour  of  his  previous  colleague  at 
Frankfort. 

*  There  can  be  little  doubt  that  Mr.  Disraeli  did  his  Prussian  friend 
the  honour  of  making  him  one  of  the  characters  (Count  Ferroll,  quasi  a 
ferro  et  igni)  in  his  last  novel,  "  Endymion."  There  is  no  one,  at  least, 
who  could  better  than  Bismarck  answer  to  the  f ollowing  description : — 
"  The  Count  of  Ferroll  about  this  time  made  a  visit  to  England.  He  was 
always  a  welcome  guest  there,  and  had  received  the  greatest  distinction 
which  England  could  bestow  upon  a  foreigner ;  he  had  been  elected  an 
honorary  member  of  White's.  '  You  may  have  troubles  here,'  he  said  to 
Lady  Montfort,  '  but  they  will  pass  ;  you  will  have  mealy  potatoes  again 
and  plenty  of  bank  notes,  but  we  shall  not  get  off  so  cheaply.  Everything 
is  quite  rotten  throughout  the  Continent.  This  year  is  tranquillity  to 
what  the  next  will  be.  There  is  not  a  throne  in  Europe  worth  a  year's 
purchase.  My  worthy  master  wants  me  to  return  home  and  be  minister ; 
I  am  to  fashion  for  him  a  new  constitution.  I  will  never  have  anything 
to  do  with  new  constitutions ;  their  inventors  are  always  the  first  victims. 


280  PRINQE  SI8MARGK. 

"  I  took  the  opportunity  yesterday  to  dine  at  St.  Germain ;  a 
beautiful  wood,  two  versts  long,  with  a  terrace  over  the  Seine,  and 
a  charming  view  over  woods,  mountains,  towns,  and  villages,  unin- 
terrupted by  green  as  far  as  Paris.  I  have  just  had  a  drive  in  the 
softest  moonlight,  through  the  Bois  de  Boulogne ;  thousands  of 
carriages  in  Corso-nle,  sheets  of  water  with  many-coloured  lights,  a 
concert  in  the  open  air,  and  now  I  am  off  to  bed." 

From   Bordeaux,   "the  city  of    red    wine,"    as   he 
called  it,  he  wrote  (27th  July) : — 

"  It  was  only  the  day  before  yesterday  that  I  started  from  Paris, 
but  it  seems  to  me  quite  a  week  ago.  I  have  seen  some  very  fine 
castles ;  Chambord,  of  which  the  enclosed,  torn  out  of  a  book,  gives 
you  a  very  imperfect  idea,  in  its  state  of  ruin,  resembles  very 
closely  the  fate  of  its  owner.  In  its  spacious  halls  and  splendid 
dining-rooms,  where  kings,  with  their  mistresses  and  huntsmen, 
once  held  their  court,  the  playthings  of  the  Duke  of  Bordeaux 

are  the  only  furniture.     The  old  woman  who  showed 
A  Legitimist  J 

tear.  us   round    took   me   for   a   French    Legitimist,    and 

squeezed  out  a  tear  when  she  pointed  out  to  me  the  toy  guns  of 
her  master.  I  paid  for  the  drop  at  the  fixed  rate  with  one  franc 
extra,  although  I  have  no  call  to  subsidise  the  Carlists.  The 
courtyards  of  the  castle  lay  as  still  in  the  sun  as  deserted  church- 
yards \  from  the  towers  there  is  a  widely  extended  view,  but  only 
over  silent  wood  and  heath,  on  every  side  to  the  furthest  horizon  ; 
no  town,  no  village,  no  farms,  either  at  the  castle  or  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood. From  the  enclosed  specimens  of  heather,  you  will  hardly 
realise  how  purple  is  the  bloom  of  these  favourite  flowers  of  mine  ; 
they  are  the  only  flowers  which  bloom  in  the  royal  garden,  as 
swallows  are  almost  the  only  living  creatures  in  the  castle.  It  is  too 
lonely  for  sparrows.  The  old  castle  of  Amboise  is  magnificently 
situated ;  from  the  top  of  it  you  can  see  thirty  miles  up  and  down 
the  Loire. 

Instead  of  making  a  constitution,  he  should  make  a  country,  and  convert 
his  heterogeneous  domains  into  a  patriotic  dominion.'  '  But  how  is  tliat 
to  be  done  ? '  '  There  is  only  one  way ;  by  blood  and  iron.'  *  My  dear 
count,  you  shock  me ! '  'I  shall  have  to  shock  you  a  great  deal  more 
before  the  inevitable  is  brought  about.'  " 


DIPLOMATIC    CAREER.  281 

And  two  days  later  : — 

"  Yesterday  I  spent  the  whole  day  on  a  charming  tour  through 
Medoc,  with  our  consul  and  a  general.  We  drank  Lafitte,  Mouton, 
Pichon,  Larose,  Latour,  Margaux,  St.  Julien,  Branne,  Armeillac, 
and  other  wines,  in  the  original  language  of  the  wine-press.  The 
thermometer  registered  thirty  degrees  in  the  shade,  and  fifty-five  in 
the  sun,  but,  with  a  skinful  of  good  wine,  one  does  not  feel  it  at  all." 

From  Bayonne  he  sent  his  wife  a  graphic  descrip- 
tion of  the  scenery  between  that  place  and 

J  "  In  the  Bay  of 

Bordeaux;    and   told   her   how,    at    Fuen-       Biscay,  or 
tarabia,  the  frontier  town  in  Spain,  he  found  that — 

"Every   window    has  a   balcony   and  a  curtain,   and  in  every 

balcony  there  are  black  eyes  and  mantillas,  beauty  and  dirt 

From  my  window  (at  St.  Sebastian)  I  look  out  on  to  a  lake  (like 
that  at  Salzburg),  cut  off  from  the  sea  by  a  craggy  island,  surrounded 
by  steep  hills  with  woods  and  houses  as  with  a  frame,  while  beneath 
to  the  left  lie  the  town  and  harbour.  At  ten  o'clock  I  bathed,  and 
after  lunch  we  climbed  or  crawled  through  the  heat  up  the  hill  to 
the  citadel,  and  sat  for  a  long  time  on  a  bench,  the  sea  some 
hundreds  of  feet  below  us,  and  near  us  the  heavy  battery  of  the 

fortress  with  a  sentry  singing I  wish  I  could  paint  you 

a  picture  of  the  scene,  and  were  we  only  fifteen  years  younger,  we 

would   come   here   together. I  am   glad   to  say   f  have 

heard  no  word  either  from  Paris  or  Berlin.  I  am  very  sunburnt, 
and  should  have  liked  better  than  anything  to  stay  in  the  water 
for  an  hour,  which  buoys  me  up  like  a  piece  of  wood,  and  is  just 
cool  enough  to  be  pleasant.  One  is  dry  by  the  time  one  gets  back 
to  the  dressing-place ;  then  I  put  on  my  hat,  and  walk  about  in  my 
bathing-sheet.  Fifty  paces  off  are  the  ladies — different  countries, 
different  habits.  There  are  custom-houses  and  passport  vexations 
without  end,  besides  incredible  turnpike  fees,  otherwise  I  should 
stay  here  longer  instead  of  going  on  to  Biarritz  to  bathe,  where 
one  is  obliged  to  wear  a  costume." 

From  Biarritz  he  wrote  (4th  August) : — 


282  FRINGE    BISMARCK. 

"  Yesterday  evening  I  went  back  from  St.  Sebastian  to  Bayonne, 
where  I  slept  the  night,  and  am  now  sitting  here  in  a  corner  room, 
in  the  Hdtel  de  1'Europe,  with  a  charming  view  over  the  blue  sea, 
which  drives  its  white  foam  between  wonderful  cliffs  through  to  the 
lighthouse.  My  conscience  piques  me  for  seeing  so  much  beautiful 
scenery  without  you.  If  I  could  only  waft  you  here  through  the 
air,  I  would  go  back  with  you  to  St.  Sebastian.  Just  imagine  the 
Siebengebirge  and  the  Drachenfels  placed  here  by  the  side  of  the  sea ; 
Ehrenbreitstein  close  by,  and  between  them  an  arm  of  the  sea,  some- 
what broader  than  the  Rhine,  forcing  its  way  through  and  forming 
a  round  bay  behind  the  mountains.  Here  we  bathe  in  transparently 
clear  water,  so  heavy  and  so  salt,  that  one  can  float  on  its  surface 
without  effort,  and  look  towards  the  sea  through  the  broad  gate 
of  the  rocks,  or  towards  the  land,  where  the  chain  of  mountains 
rises  ever  higher  and  more  blue.  The  women  of  the  middle  and 
lower  classes  are  strikingly  pretty,  some  of  them  beautiful.  The 
men  are  sulky  and  uncivil,  and  the  comforts  of  life,  to  which  we 
are  accustomed,  are  altogether  missing." 

"  Yesterday  I  drove  in  the  diligence  rather  uncomfortably  packed 
between  two  pretty  Spanish  women,   with  whom  I  could  not  speak 
a  word.     However,  they  understood  enough  Italian  for  me  to  make ' 
it  clear  to  them  that  I  was  charmed  with  their  appearance." 

At  Luchon  lie  passed  several  days  of  glorious  enjoy- 
ment among  the  forests,  and  rocks,  and  waterfalls  of  the 
Pyrenees,  whence — 

"  On  the  right  flowed  the  waters  to  the  Ebro,  on  the  left  the 
waters  to  the  Garonne,  while  glacier  and  snow-capped  mountain 
stood  out  against  the  horizon,  the  one  behind  the  other,  far  away  to 

Catalonia  and  Aragon. To-day  we  saw  the 

rocky  Lake  of  Oo,  which  is  like  the  Obersee  at  Berchtes- 
gaden,    but   rendered   more    animated   by   a   waterfall, 
that  plunges  into  it.     "We  rowed  on  it,  and  sang  French  chansonettes 
and  Mendelssohn  alternately,  i.e.,  I  listened ;  then  we  rode  home 
in  pouring  rain,  and  are  now  dry  again,  and  hungry." 

From  Toulouse  (12th  September)  he  wrote :  "  I  have 


DIPLOMATIC    OAEEER. 


roamed  through  mountains  and  woods  in  happy  forget- 
fulness  of  the  world,  and  am  a  little  op- 

An  electric 


and  a 


pressed  to  find  myself  for  the  first  time  in  dissolving 
a  large  town  again/'  But  this  happy  for- 
getfulness  of  the  world  and  all  its  cares  was  now  for 
him  at  an  end,  and  would  never  soothe  his  soul  again. 
The  swallow's  summer  was  over.  Bismarck's  Wander- 
jahre  were  done.  For  into  this  fascinating  fairy-land 
of  Mendelssohn  and  moonlight,  snow-clad  mountains 
and  thundering  waterfalls,  dark-eyed  Spanish  beauties 
and  pellucid-azure  seas  —  there  was  now  flashed  an 
electric  spark  which  suddenly  transformed  it,  as  if  by 
the  mechanism  of  a  dissolving  view,  into  a  prospect  of 
bare  and  repulsive  reality  among  the  unromantic  wastes 
of  Brandenburg. 

While  deep  in  the  oblivious  valleys  of  the  Pyrenees, 
Bismarck  was  overtaken  by  a  telegram  from  King 
William  summoning  him  at  once  to  Berlin. 

•A  parhamen- 

The  Chamber  had  again  been  riding  rough- 


shod  over  His  Majesty's  schemes  of  army 
reform,  and  his  Cabinet  had  once  more  proved  itself  in- 
competent to  bend  or  break  the  popular  will.  Travelling 
post-1  a  be  Bismarck  arrived  in  Berlin  on  the  19th 
September,  in  time  to  witness  part  of  the  seven  days' 
debate  which  ended,  on  the  23rd,  by  the  Chamber 
refusing  to  vote  the  military  estimates  as  laid  before  it 
by  the  Crown.  To  this  vote  the  King  answered  by 
immediately  appointing  Bismarck  President  of  his 
Ministry. 

The  die  was  cast,  the  fate  of  Germany  was  now 


284  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

sealed ;  but,  before  proceeding  to  narrate  .how  Bismarck 
began  the  work  of  German  unity  by  breaking 

Farewell  to  J      J 


the  the  will  of  the  Prussian  Parliament,  we  may 
here  record,  for  the  sake  of  symmetry,  that  he 
returned  to  Paris  towards  the  end  of  October  for  the 
purpose  of  presenting  to  Napoleon  his  letters  of  recall. 
By  the  Emperor  he  was  received  at  Saint  Cloud,  in  those 
very  rooms  where  Charles  X.  had  signed  the  "  July 
Ordinances  "  which  proved  so  fatal  to  his  throne ;  and, 
aware  of  the  task  on  which  Bismarck  was  about  to  enter 
at  Berlin.  His  Majesty  made  bold  to  advise  him  "  not 
to  forget  the  fate  of  Polignac.'* 

"  After  I  'became  Minister,"  said  Bismarck  once,  "  I  had  an 
interview  with  Napoleon.  He  then  said  that  things  could  not  go 
on  long  as  they  were  doing,  that  there  would  be  a  rising  in  Berlin, 
and  a  revolution  in  the  whole  country,  and  that  the  King  would 
have  everybody  voting  against  him  in  a  plebiscite.  I  told  him  that 
the  people  in  our  country  were  not  barricade-builders,  and  that  in 
Prussia  revolutions  were  only  made  by  the  kings.  If  the  King  could 
stand  the  strain  on  him  for  three  or  four  years,  and  I  allowed  that 
there  was  one— the  estrangement  of  the  public  being  very  painful  and 
disagreeable  to  him — he  would  certainly  win  his  game.  Unless  he  got 
tired  and  left  me  in  the  lurch,  I  would  not  fail  him.  If  we  were  to 
appeal  to  the  people,  and  put  it  to  the  vote,  he  would  even  now  have 
nine-tenths  of  them  in  his  favour.  The  Emperor,  at  the  time,  said  of 
me,  *  Ce  riest  pas  un  homme  serieux ' — a  mot  of  which  I  did  not  think 
myself  at  liberty  to  remind  him  in  the  weaver's  hut  at  Donchery."* 

As  for  the  attitude  of  France  in  the  event  of  a  war 
between  Prussia  and  Austria,  Napoleon  was  good  enough 
to  promise  unconditional  neutrality.  It  is 
true,  he  again  spoke  of  "  some  slight  rectifi- 
cation of  frontier,"  mentioning  the  Saar- 
*  "  Bismarck  iu  the  Franco- Germau  War," 


DIPLOMATIC   CAREER.  285 

briick  coal-fields  as  a  desirable  acquisition  for  Trance; 
but  Bismarck  distinctly  told  him  that  Prussia  would  not 
part  with  a  single  village,  saying  that,  even  if  he  himself 
were  willing  (which  he  was  not),  the  King  would  never 
hear  of  such  a  thing.  The  Emperor,  who  in  his 
ignorance  underrated  the  strength  of  Prussia,  repeatedly 
warned  Bismarck  of  the  daiager  he  was  incurring  in 
language  similar  to  that  which  the  latter  himself  had 
used  to  him  in  1857  when  taken  into  His  Majesty's 
confidence  with  respect  to  certain  audacious  schemes  of 
conquest  and  aggrandisement  affecting  some  of  his 
neighbours :  "  Sire''  Bismarck  had  replied  then,  "  Sire 
vous  vous  embourberiez"  (You  will  get  yourself  into  trouble 
with  such  ideas).* 

It  was  now  Napoleon's  turn  to  caution  Bismarck  in 
similar  language,  but  seeing  him  full  of  hope  and 
courage,  despite  his  evil-boding,  he  dis-  Thefervourof 
missed  him  with  a '"Very  well,  then,  do  aMahomet- 
what  you  cannot  help  doing.' 'f  What  he  could  not 
help  doing,  because  the  necessities  of  his  country  im- 
periously demanded  it,  was  to  nullify  the  Parliament  of 

*  The  conversation  between  Bismarck  and  Napoleon  in  1857,  here 
alluded  to,  was  repeated  by  the  former  to  a  companion  (not  Dr.  Busch)  at 
Versailles  in  the  winter  of  1870-71,  and  will  be  found  recorded  in  Herr 
von  Koppen's  Biography  of  the  Chancellor — in  which,  indeed,  it  is 
almost  the  only  point  of  fresh  interest. 

f  "Erinnerungen  aus  meinem  Leben,  von  Arthur  Graf  Seherr-Thoss" 
(in  the  Deutsche  Rundschau  for  June  and  July,  1881,  also  published 
separately) — the  writer  being  a  Hungarian  politician,  who  offered  his 
services  (which  were  accepted)  to  the  "  Cavour  of  Germany  "  as  an  anti. 
Austrian  agitator  among  his  own  Magyar  countrymen,  and  to  whom 
Bismarck  related  the  substance  of  his  parting  interview  with  Napoleon  at 
Saint  Cloud. 


Prussia,  and  thrust  Austria  out  of  the  Germanic  body  of 
nations.  "  Bismarck's  whole  soul  glowed  with  the 
passionate  resolve  to  expel  Austria  from  Germany.  It 
was  not  in  his  character  to  hesitate  as  to  means;  and 
neither  moral  nor  material  obstacles  diverted  him  from 
his  object.  In  fact,  he  entered  on  the  contest  un- 
encumbered by  scruples  of  any  kind.  To  raise  Prussia 
to  the  political  status  which  he  thought  his  country 
ought  to  hold,  was  his  religion.  He  entered  the  path 
of  action  with  the  fervour  of  a  Mahomet  enforcing  a 
novel  faith,  and,  like  Mahomet,  he  succeeded."  * 

*  Sir  Alexander  Male! 


CHAPTER  VI. 
THE    "CONFLICT- TIME." 

1. — With  the  Chamber  and  Denmark. 

"Wna  in    Heaven's    name    is    Herr   von  Bismarck, 

that   he  should   be   placed  in  such  a  high  station  ?  " 
most  people  in  Prussia  began  to  ask.    "  Bis- 
marck— cestle  Coup  cPEtat,"  was  the  ready         vonBis- 

«*  marck?" 

reply  of  the  Liberal  Press,  which  greeted 
his  advent  to  power  with  a  storm  of  abuse,  calling  him 
a    "  swaggering    Junker,"    a    "  hollow    braggart,"    a 
"  Napoleon- worshipper,"  and  a  "  town-uprooter."*     It 
had  lost   sight  of  him  to  a  great  extent  for  the  last 

*  It  may  be  as  well  to  quote  one  or  two  opinions  of  the  Press  on 
Bismarck  at  this  time.  "  The  Prussian  people,"  wrote  the  Cologne  Gazette, 
"know  that  Herr  von  Bismarck  merely  wishes  to  bring  about  foreign 
complications  in  order  to  allay,  or  at  least  silence,  domestic  troubles." 
And  again  the  Berliner  Allgemeine  Zeitung,  organ  of  the  old  Liberals : 
"  As  a  country  gentleman  of  moderate  political  training,  with  views  and 
knowledge  not  superior  to  that  which  is  the  common  property  of  all 
educated  persons,  he  began  his  career.  The  climax  of  his  parliamentary 
fame  he  reached  in  the  Diet  of  1849  (for  revising  the  Constitution),  and 
in  the  Union  Parliament  (at  Erfurt)  in  1850.  His  speeches  were  rude 
and  inconsiderate,  nonchalant  to  an  insolent  degree,  and  sometimes  even 
roughly  witty ;  but  when  did  he  ever  express  a  political  thought  ?  At 
Frankfort  he  has  acquired  some  knowledge  of  diplomatic  ceremonial, 
while  at  St.  Petersburg  and  Paris  he  has  managed  to  worm  secrets  out  of 
intriguing  princesses ;  but  with  the  bitter  labour  of  administrative  routine 
he  is  unfamiliar,  and  never  has  he  been  able  to  gain  clear  insight  into  the 
working  of  the  State-machine  in  all  its  details." 


288  PRINCE 

ten  years,  but  now  his  words  and  acts  during  the 
revolutionary  period  were  raked  up  against  him,  as 
a  previous  conviction  is  hunted  out  to  aggravate  a 
new  indictment.  King  William  heeded  not  at  all  the 
great  unpopularity  of  his  choice  of  a  Prime  and 
Foreign  Minister,  knowing  that,  by  the  Constitution, 
the  appointment  of  his  Cabinet  lay  with  himself 
alone,  and  not  with  his  Parliament.  Somehow  or 
other,  the  King  had  boundless  confidence  in  the  man 
into  whose  hands  he  now  committed  the  helm  of 
affairs.  "  Voila  mon  medecin"  His  Majesty,  pointing 
to  Bismarck,  is  said  to  have  replied  to  a  Eussian 
princess  who  complimented  him  on  the  improvement 
of  his  looks. 

The  King's  mental  indisposition  was  of  a  serious 
nature.  Despite  his  well-known  liberality  and  enlighten* 
ment  on  some  points,  he  was  at  feud  with  the  majority 
of  his  thinking  subjects.  It  was  the 


llamas  military     proud  boast  of  the   Prussians  that,  above 

schemes.  A 

all  things,  they  were  a  military  people  ;  but 
they  had  been  lately  asked  to  indulge  in  soldiering 
to  an  extent  for  which  they  professed  the  most  un- 
equivocal aversion.  King  William  was  as  passionately 
fond  of  soldiers  as  Frederick  William,  the  father  of 
Frederick  the  Great,  had  been.  Like  that  kidnapper 
and  driller  of  giants,  too,  he  did  not,  perhaps,  very  well 
see  in  what  way  he  would  have  to  use  his  splendid 
regiments  ;  but  he  had  a  fixed  belief  that  the  welfare  of 
Prussia  was  as  dependent  on  her  possession  of  a  colossal 
army,  as  the  beak  and  talons  of  the  eagle  are  necessary 


CONFLICT-TIME"  280 

to  secure  it  from  other  birds  of  prey.  So  far,  also,  his 
subjects  were  at  one  with  him;  and  the  only  ques- 
tion between  them  was  as  to  the  thickness  of  the  armour 
they  should  wear.  Olmiitz  had  been  a  shame  and  a 
disgrace  to  Prussia,  but  Prussia  never  would  have  gone 
to  Olmiitz  had  she  not  deemed  her  military  force 
inferior  to  that  of  Austria.  King  William  was  firmly 
resolved  to  change  all  that ;  and  he  had  no  sooner,  on 
the  mental  collapse  of  his  brother,  assumed  the  Regency 
than,  with  the  aid  of  General  von  Boon,  he  set  about 
reorganising  his  army  to  suit  the  necessities  of  the  time. 
To  detail  this  great  work  of  reform,  which  converted  the 
Prussian  army  into  the  most  efficient  instrument  of 
warfare  known  to  history,  is  not  within  the  scope  of 
this  sketch.  It  is  enough  to  say,  in  general  terms,  that 
the  number  of  the  infantry  regiments  was  doubled,  and 
the  cavalry  regiments  increased  by  ten.  Believing  this 
change  to  be  only  transitory — the  Italian  war  had  lately 
fluttered  the  nation — the  Chamber  at  first  voted  funds ; 
but,  on  finding  that  the  King  meant  it  to  be  permanent, 
it  stubbornly  refused  to  open  its  purse. 

The  main  cause  of  the  quarrel  between  Crown  and 
country  was  that  they  were  really  at  sixes  and  sevens. 
They  misunderstood   each   other,    and   the       »Bioodand 
worst  of  it  was  that  Bismarck    could    not 
talk    of  his    secret   schemes  without   imperilling  their 
success ;  while  the  Chamber,  uninitiated  in  the  moves  of 
diplomacy,  could  not  be  expected  to  sanction  the  main- 
tenance of  an  army  for  which  it  saw  no  apparent  use. 
The  deputies   were  aware   of  Bismarck's   hostility  to 
T 


290  PRINCE  B1SUAUGE. 

Austria ;  but  they  argued  that  Prussia  only  required  to 
raise  high  the  banner  of  Liberalism  to  secure  her  the 
sympathy  of  all  the  minor  States,  and  the  hegemony  in 
Germany.  Bismarck  thought  very  differently.  "  It  is 
not,"  he  said,  a  few  days  after  his  accession  to  power, 
"it  is  not  by  speechifying  and  majorities  that  the  great 
questions  of  the  time  will  have  to  be  decided — that  was 
the  mistake  made  in  1848  and  1849 — but  by  blood  and 
iron"*  This  famous  phrase,  which  has  been  used  to 
characterise  the  whole  policy  of  the  Unifier  of  Germany, 
was  first  used  in  the  Budget  Committee.  "  I  brought 
this  olive  twig  with  me  from  Avignon,"  he  further  said, 
"  to  offer  to  the  popular  party  as  a  token  of  peace  ;  but 
I  see  it  is  not  yet  time  for  that."  How,  indeed,  could  it 
be,  when  Parliament  seemed  bent  on  depriving  him  of 
the  instrument  with  which  alone  he  could  revenge  him- 


*  "The  conflict  is  looked  at  by  the  public  and  the  Press  in  too 
tragical  a  light.  The  Government  does  not  wish  a  struggle,  and  would 
readily  lend  a  hand  in  surmounting  the  crisis  if  it  could  do  so  with 
honour.  In  Prussia  the  great  independence  of  the  individual  makes  it 
difficult  to  rule  with  a  Constitution ;  in  France  it  is  otherwise,  where  there 
is  no  individual  independence.  .  .  .  We  are  perhaps  too  highly 
educated  to  bear  with  a  Constitution  ;  we  are  too  critical.  Public  opinion 
varies ;  the  Press  does  not  represent  public  opinion ;  you  know  what  the 
Press  (with  as)  is.  We  have  too  many  '  Catiline  existences  '  (among  us) 
that  have  an  interest  in  social  upturnings.  Our  blood  is  too  hot ;  we  are 
too  fond  of  wearing  armour  out  of  proportion  to  our  small  body ;  but  we 
must  at  least  use  it.  Germany  considers  not  the  Liberalism  of  Prussia,  but 
her  power.  Bavaria,  Wurtemburg,  and  Baden,  may  afford  to  flirt  with 
Liberalism,  but  no  one  would  think  of  asking  them,  on  that  account,  to 
assume  the  role  of  Prussia.  Prussia  must  brace  herself  up  for  the  fitter 
moment  which  has  already  more  than  once  been  missed;  Prussia's 
borders  are  not  favourable  to  the  development  of  a  healthy  State.  Not 
by  speechifying  and  majorities  can  the  great  questions  of  the  time  be 
decided— that  was  the  mistake  of  1848  and  1849— but  by  blood  and  iron." 


TEE   "CONFLICT-TIME*  291 

self  on   Olmiitz,    and   otherwise   carry   out    his   great 
political  schemes? 

That  the  army,  as  re-organised  by  the  King,  should 
remain  undiminished  by  a  single  man,  he  was  sternly 
resolved  ;  and  no  power  on  earth — not  the  fierce  hatred 
and  opposition  of  most  of  his  countrymen,  not  the 
adverse  opinion  of  Europe,  not  the  threat  of  im- 
peachment, not  the  fear  of  endangering  the  Crown 
whereof  he  was  the  sworn  slave  and  vassal,  not  even  the 
prospect  of  exile  or  the  scaffold — could  shake  him  in 
his  firm-set  purpose  !  "  What  matter,"  he  said  to  the 
liberally -inclined  Crown  Prince,  "  what  matter  if  they 
hang  me,  provided  the  rope  by  which  they  string  me  up 
bind  this  new  Grermany  more  firmly  to  your  throne  ?  " 

For  four  long  years  the  conflict  between  Crown  and 
Parliament   raged.      Bismarck's   attitude  was   at  first 
conciliatory,  but   he    soon  found  that  the 
Chamber,  like  Shylock,  insisted  on  having     tweeiccrown 

'  .  and  Chamber. 

its  pound  of  flesh.  Nothing  would  induce 
it  to  grant  supplies  for  the  re-organised  army;  and 
neither  the  King  nor  the  Upper  House,  on  their  side, 
would  sanction  any  figures  which  did  not  include  all 
the  military  estimates.  The  consequence  was  that  the 
Government,  acting  on  the  assumption  that  in  this  case 
right  was  on  the  side  of  might,  ruled  without  a  budget. 
It  was  long  the  fashion  to  compare  "demented  Bis- 
marck and  his  ditto  king  to  Strafford  and  Charles  I., 
versus  our  Long  Parliament ; "  but  the  issues  between 
King  William  and  his  Diet  were  very  different.  "  As  like 
as  Monmouth  to  Maeedon,"  said  Carlyle,  "  and  no  liker." 
T  2 


292  miNCE  SISMAWK. 

At  this  distance  of  time  it  is  difficult  to  look  at  the 
"  Conflict "  in  the  light  in  which  it  was  then  the  fashion 
was  Bismarck  ^°  regar(l  &•  Above  all  things  one  must 
he  ware  of  always  applying  the  English 
standard  of  parliamentary  life  to  the  young  constitu- 
tional States  of  the  Continent.  Unfortunate  in  one 
respect  are  the  countries  that  have  a  written,  and  there- 
fore unelastic,  Constitution ;  for  they  are  debarred  by  a 
lex  scripta  from  making  constitutional  progress,  and  yet 
the  tendency  of  all  human  institutions  to  develop  con- 
tinually tempts  them  to  depart  from  the  letter  of  the 
law.  Vain  of  their  new-won  rights,  the  Prussian 
people  were  a  little  too  apt  to  look  upon  their  Charter 
as  a  unilateral  contract,  and  too  eager  to  precipitate  the 
operation  of  that  process  which,  in  all  monarchical  States, 
must  inevitably  end  by  transferring  the  balance  of  power 
from  the  Crown  to  the  crowd.  They  were  inclined  to 
forget  that  the  Constitution  (of  1850),  which  had  con- 
ferred upon  them  certain  political  privileges,  had  not  to 
any  great  extent  curtailed  the  prerogatives  of  the  King. 
By  the  Constitution,  the  power  of  the  Crown  and  of  the 
two  Chambers  was  expressly  declared  to  be  equal ;  not 
merely  in  theory,  as  in  England,  but  in  living  reality. 
Their  common  and  uncoerced  assent  was  as  necessary 
to  the  passing  of  the  budget  as  of  any  other  law ;  and 
yet  the  Lower  Chamber  claimed  fiscal  rights  as  com- 
plete as  those  of  the  House  of  Commons — as  supreme 
as  if  the  veto  right  of  a  Prussian  King,  like  that  of  an 
English  Sovereign,  had  already  become  a  mere  legal 
fiction. 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  293 

Now,  as  Bismarck  argued,  if  the  three  legislative 
factors — possessing  votes  of  equal  power — could  not 
agree  to  pass  the  budget  law,  what  was  His  own  view 
to  be  done?  By  the  oversight  of  those 
who  made  it,  the  Constitution  had  not  provided  for  such 
a  dilemma,  and  was  the  machinery  of  the  State  mean- 
while to  stand  still  for  want  of  oil  ?  Would  the 
Government  not  incur  a  much  more  fearful  responsi- 
bility before  the  country,  if,  merely  because  the  budget 
could  not  be  passed,  it  sat  down  with  folded  hands, 
shut  up  its  custom-houses,  and  allowed  its  huge  army 
of  officials  to  starve  for  want  of  pay  ?  It  had  the 
choice  of  two  evils,  and  which  was  the  lesser  of  these 
there  could,  in  Bismarck's  mind,  be  no  possible  doubt. 
All  constitutional  life  was  a  series  of  compromises,  and 
as  the  Lower  Chamber  would  not  yield  an  inch  to  the 
Crown  and  the  Upper  House — two  being  here  against 
one — there  was  nothing  for  the  Government  but  to  act, 
at  its  risk  and  peril,  on  the  law  of  majorities. 

Will  history  pronounce  against  Bismarck  as  his 
political  foes  then  did  ?  It  is  true  that  when  the  end 
justified  the  means,  when  the  Prussian  WhatwillHia_ 
army  at  Uiippel  and  Koniggratz  had  in  the 
most  complete  and  brilliant  manner  vindicated  its  title 
to  existence,  Bismarck  asked  and  obtained  from  Par- 
liament— as  at  the  beginning  of  the  conflict  he  said  he 
would  subsequently  have  to  do — an  indemnity  for 
having  ruled  so  long  without  a  regularly  voted  budget ; 
but  he  was  careful  to  explain  that  this  was  but  a  mere 
concession  to  form.  While  ruling  for  four  years  with- 


294  PEINOE   BISMARCK. 

out  a  budget,  Bismarck  never  contended  that  his  con- 
duct had  any  legal  basis ;  he  frankly  admitted  that  he 
was  acting  unconstitutionally;  but  he  could  not  pos- 
sibly, in  the  circumstances,  do  anything  else;  and 
seeing,  as  he  said,  that  all  constitutional  life  is  a  series 
of  compromises,  who  was  to  blame  for  bringing  him 
to  such  a  pass  ? 

Stormy  were  the  scenes  and  fierce  the  excitement  which 
this  theory,  boldly  acted  on  as  it  was,  produced  in  the 
His  demea-  Chamber  and  throughout  the  nation ;  but  Bis- 

nour  in  the 

chamber.  marck  remained  as  firm  and  immovable  as  a 

"  rocker  de  bronze."  He  had  the  conviction  of  a  Luther, 
and,  like  a  Luther,  nothing  could  daunt  or  shake  him. 
In  the  Chamber  debates  he  was  contemptuous  but  never 
angry,  cutting  and  sarcastic  without  being  coarse ;  and 
his  social  accomplishments  gave  him  a  great  advantage 
over  his  opponents,  in  whom  over- education  contrasted 
strongly  with  under-breeding.  He  was  as  cool  under 
parliamentary  fire  as  the  Duke  of  Wellington  ever  was 
under  a  hail  of  bullets ;  and  when  the  doctrinaires  and 
the  professors,  who  were  the  curse  of  the  Chamber,  were 
thundering  against  him  about  tyranny,  revolution,  im- 
peachment, and  all  the  rest  of  it,  he  would  calmly  sit 
down  before  them  to  write  a  chatty  letter  to  his  wife,  or 
to  thank  his  sister  for  a  present  of  sausages  and  black- 
puddings.  But  the  spirit  of  opposition  in  both  parties 
soon  degenerated  into  a  habit  of  aggression,  and  from 
quarrelling  about  the  Constitution  they  began  to 
wrangle  about  the  rules  of  debate. 

With  what  degree  of  gall  and  bitterness  the  combat- 


THE   "  CONFLICT-TIME."    .  295 

ants  were  respectively  imbued,  may  be  judged  from  the 
unseemly  wrangling  that  took  place  in  Parliament  about 
the  authority  of  the  President.  No  Irish  Home 
Eulers  ever  showed  less  respect  for  the  au-   Prussian 

Ministers. 

thority  of  the  Speaker  than  did  these  Prussian 
Ministers ;  and,  as  usual,  their  Chief  was  foremost  in 
the  fray.  Prussian  Ministers,  it  may  be  repeated,  are 
rarely  ever  deputies ;  at  the  time  we  speak  of  none  of 
them  were.  They  represented  the  Sovereign,  not  the 
popular  will,  and  were  in  Parliament  without  being  of 
it.  Not,  as  in  England,  adjuncts  of  the  Crown  nomi- 
nated by  the  people,  they  were  checks  on  the  people 
appointed  by  the  Crown.  As  if  to  mark  the  gulf  that 
separated  them  from  Parliament,  their  seats  were  railed 
off  from  the  rest  of  the  house,*  and  they  claimed  almost 
the  same  respect  for  their  bench  as  the  King  did  for  his 
throne.  The  Constitution,  which  sanctioned  this  state 
of  things,  likewise  provided  that  the  Ministers  "  must 
always  be  listened  to  at  request ;  "  which  plainly  meant 
that,  whenever  they  had  any  remark  to  offer,  the  house 
was  bound  to  regard  them  as  members  for  the  time 
being,  and  to  give  them  a  hearing  as  such.  But  this 
interpretation  did  not  satisfy  the  Ministers  themselves. 
They  insisted  that  the  clause  in  question  entirely 
exempted  them  from  the  presidential  authority  by  which 
the  house  itself  was  bound,  and  enabled  them  to  rebuke 

*  Professor  Virchow  once  moved  the  adjournment  of  the  Honse  because 
the  Minister-President,  from  an  evident  aversion  to  listen  to  unpleasant 
truths,  had  left  the  hall.  At  the  same  moment  Bismarck  reappeared  and 
calmly  remarked  that  "  the  speeches  of  honourable  members  were  perfectly 
Audible  in  the  ministerial  ante-room," 


296  PRINQE   EI8MABOK. 

and  attack  its  members  at  will.  Only  guests,  so  to  say, 
of  the  House  themselves,  they  nevertheless  claimed  to 
act  as  its  masters. 

When  once  reminded  by  the  President  of  the  irrele- 
vancy of  his  remarks,  Bismarck  haughtily  replied  that  he 
was  wholly  above  the  disciplinary  power  of  the 

Bockum-Dolffs          ,.  -i  j  i      i   •         ni  •  i  TIT  i 

and  his  over-       chair,  and  that  in  all  he  said  or  did  he  acknow- 

sized  hat. 

ledged  no  master  but  the  King.  A  violent 
scene  ensued,  but  it  was  surpassed  some  time  afterwards 
by  the  storm  similarly  raised  by  General  von  Boon. 
"  Thus  far,  and  no  farther/'  exclaimed  the  Minister  of 
War,,  in  a  climax  of  passion,  pointing  to  the  gangway 
before  his  bench,  "  can  the  authority  of  the  President 
come."  In  another  instant  Bockum-Dolffs,  the  Presi- 
dent, had  put  on  his  hat,  which,  like  the  extinguisher  of 
a  candle,  was  symbolically  used  for  snuffing  out  the 
flame  of  parliamentary  eloquence  and  suspending  the 
sitting ;  but  lo  !  either  by  malice  or  mistake,  the  beaver 
that  was  brought  him  proved  much  too  big,  and  down 
it  dropped  over  his  very  nose.  The  curtain  thus  fell  on 
one  act  of  the  tragi- comedy  amid  explosions  of  wrath 
and  roars  of  laughter.  But  famous  and  far-shining  in 
Prussian  annals  is  the  story  of  Bockum-Dolifs  and  his 
over- sized  hat.* 

*  We  cannot  better  characterise  the  debates  of  this  period  than  by 
quoting  the  dialogue  which  led  to  the  climax  referred  to.  It  was  the  llth 
May,  1863.  Professor  von  Sybel  had  said  something  which  wounded  the 
sensibility  of  General  von  Boon,  and  caused  the  fiery  Minister  of  War  to 
start  up  and  wrathfully  fling  the  accusation  of  "  unwarrantable  presump- 
tion "  in  the  teeth  of  the  learned  Professor.  Hereupon  the  Yice-President, 
Herr  von  Bockum-Dolffs,  rang  his  bell  violently  :  "  If  is  my  right  to  speak* 
and  I  interrupt  the  Minister."  Ro&n :  "  I  must  beg  pardon,  but  I  had 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  297 

The  Ministers  retired  and  drew  up  a  declaration  to 
the  effect  that,  until  assured  of  complete  immunity  from 
the  discipline  of  the  President,  they  would  cease  to 
appear  in  the  Chamber.  To  this  the  House  of  Deputies 
replied  by  re -asserting  the  disciplinary  rights  of  the  Pre- 
sident, and  by  denouncing  as  lawless  the  conduct  of  the 
Cabinet.  The  latter  rejoined  by  repeating  their  previous 
threat,  and  the  King  himself  added  weight  to  it  by 
telling  Parliament  that  he  fully  endorsed  the  action  of 
his  councillors.  Undismayed  the  stubborn  deputies 
returned  to  the  attack  with  an  address  to  the  King,  in 

the  ear  of  the  Honse,  and  will  not  part  with  it.  (Clanging  of  the  Presi- 
dent's bell.)  The  Constitution  gives  me  the  right  to  speak,  and  no  bell,  no 
beckoning,  and  no- interruption  on  earth  will  ever — "  (Bell  of  the  President 
again,  with  loud  cries  of  "  Order,  Order,"  and  great  uproar.)  President : 
"  When  I  interrupt  the  Minister,  it  is  his  duty  to  be  silent.  ("  Oho,"  on 
the  Bight,  "Bravo,"  on  the  Left.)  For  this  purpose  I  make  use  of  the 
bell,  and  if  Mr.  Minister  will  not  attend  to  it,  I  demand  that  my  hat  be 
brought  me."  Roon  :  "  I  have  no  objection  to  Mr.  President  sending  for 

his  hat,  but  I  must  remark "  (loud  and  continued  uproar).  "  Gentlemen* 

350  voices  are  louder  than  one ! !  I  demand  my  constitutional  right ! 
According  to  that  I  can  speak  whenever  I  like,  and  no  one  is  entitled  to 
interrupt  me."  (Babel  of  confusion.)  President  (making  even  more 
vigorous  use  of  his  bell) :  "  I  interrupt  Mr.  War-Minister !  When  the 
President  speaks,  every  one  must  hold  his  peace,  and  every  one  in  this 
House,  be  it  down  here  among  ourselves,  or  up  in  the  galleries,  must  obey 
the  President.  If  anything  were  done  against  the  rules  of  this  House  it 
would  be  my  business  to  censure  it,  but  I  have  not  done  that  (in  the 
present  case),  as  the  previous  speaker  (Professor  Sybel)  in  all  he  said  was 
quite  within  his  rights.  (Cheering  on  the  Left,  hissing  on  the  Bight.) 
And  now  I  call  upon  Mr.  War-Minister  to  speak."  Roon  (angrily) :  "  I 
must  remark  that  I  again  protest  against  the  right  arrogated  by  Mr. 
President  in  face  of  the  Royal  Government.  I  maintain  that  the  authority 
of  the  President,  as  previously  pointed  out  (by  Bismarck),  only  extends  up 
to  the  outside  of  this  (ministerial)  bench,  and  no  further  I "  ( Yiolent 
commotion  on  the  Left,  and  counter-hissing  on  the  Bight.  Hubbub 
increases,  all  the  deputies  rise,  and  Bockum-DolfEs  covers  his  head,  with 
the  tragi-comical  results  above  described.) 


298  PEINOE   BISMARCK. 

which  they  respectfully  but  firmly  summed  up  the 
manifold  sins  of  his  Cabinet,  and  demanded  a  change, 
not  only  of  his  Ministers,  but  also  of  the  system  under 
which  they  had  essayed  to  rule.  This  again  at  once 
drew  from  the  King  a  long  message  to  Parliament,  in 
which  he  expressed  his  gratitude  to  his  Ministers  for 
helping  him  to  resist  its  encroaching  efforts,  and  assured 
it  that,  "with  the  assistance  of  God,  he  would  yet  succeed 
in  frustrating  all  criminal  attempts  to  loosen  the  bond 
of  loyalty  between  prince  and  people."  Thus  the  record 
was  closed,  and  next  day  the  deputies  were  sent  about 
their  business  like  so  many  naughty  school-children. 

And  now  the  voice  of  protest-  and  criticism,  which 
had  been  silenced  in  Parliament,  grew  loud  and  ever 
Despotic  louder  m  the  Press  ;  but  the  Press,  in  its 
measures,  turn,  was  promptly  muzzled — the  Constitu- 
tion enabled  the  Government  to  do  this  in  certain 
circumstances  which  it  deemed  to  be  now  existent — the 
deputies  were  prosecuted,  the  bench  was  brow-beaten,  the 
whole  machinery  of  official  coercion  was  set  agoing ;  and 
in  fact  the  Government  began  to  go  too  far — so  far  that 
even  the  Crown  Prince  publicly  protested  against  its 
action  as  dangerous  to  the  throne  and  his  succession  to 
it,  and  fell  into  temporary  disgrace  in  consequence.  To 
rule  without  a  budget  was  what  the  Government,  in  the 
circumstances,  could  not  possibly  help  doing,  whether 
right  or  wrong ;  but  the  way  in  which  it  sought  to 
deal  with  the  arguments  of  those  who  opposed  this 
course  seemed  to  deprive  it  of  its  actual  basis  of 
right. 


THE   "  OONFLICT-TIME."  299 

Bismarck  was  now  the  best-hated  man  in  Prussia,  as 
he  afterwards — during   the  "  Kulturkampf  " — declared 
he  had  come  to  be  in  Europe.      He  was 
vehemently    denounced   in    the    Chamber:    best-hated  man 

J  in  Prussia. 

in  the  Press  he  was  assailed  with  bitter 
malignity.  He  was  compared  with  Catiline,  with 
Strafford,  and  with  Polignac ;  by  one  deputy  described 
as  a  Don  Quixote,  by  another  as  a  tight-rope  dancer, 
and  by  a  third  as  a  double-faced  traitor  in  league  with 
Napoleon.  "  Travelling,"  he  wrote  to  his  wife  in  July, 
1863,  "agrees  with  me  capitally ;  but  it  is  very  annoy- 
ing to  be  stared  at  like  a  Japanese  at  every  station.  It 
is  all  over  now  with  incognito  and  its  comforts  until  the 
day  comes  when  I,  like  others  before  me,  shall  have 
disappeared,  and  some  one  else  has  the  advantage  of 
being  the  object  of  general  ill-will." 

But  meanwhile,  side  by  side  with  the  constitutional 
struggle — which  was  only  a  means  to  an  end — diplo- 
matic events  were  fast  ripening.  Bismarck  His  foreign 
felt  the  ardently  wished-for  time  to  be  near 
when  the  solution  of  the  German  question  could  no 
longer  be  postponed,  and  his  whole  foreign  policy  aimed 
at  putting  Prussia  on  as  good  a  footing  as  possible  with 
her  non-Grerman  neighbours,  so  that,  if  she  had  few 
helping  friends,  she  might  at  least  have  no  active  foes. 
Prussia  was  preparing  for  action,  but  prior  to  her  taking 
the  field,  it  was  necessary  that  she  should  be  secured 
no  less  against  possible  foes  abroad  than  against  active 
ill-wishers  at  home. 

Now  to   the   latter   belonged,   among   others,   the 


300  FRINGE   BISMARGK 

Elector  of  Hesse,  whose  despotic  folly   threatened   to 

create  a  revolution  in  his  own  dominions  which  might 

possibly  excite  dangerous  sympathy  in  those 

Doctoring  a  „  ,  .     '        .    ,  ,  T  .  , 

Hessian  des-  or  his  neighbours.  In  a  previous  chapter 
we  saw  how  the  humiliation  of  Olmiitz 
followed  hard  upon  a  "revolution  in  slippers  and 
dressing-gown,"  which  had  broken  out  in  Hesse 
owing  to  the  Elector  having  suspended  the  Constitution 
granted  to  his  people  in  1831 ;  and  thenceforth  this 
"  wee,  wee  German  lairdie "  had  essayed  to  rule  his 
enlightened  subjects  like  a  Sultan.  For  a  dozen  years 
Cassel  continued  to  be  the  scene  of  constitutional 
brawls  which  contained  the  elements  of  a  general 
German  quarrel.  Even  Austria,  who  had  at  first  taken 
the  Hessian  tyrant  under  her  wing,  now  came  to  share 
the  views  of  Prussia  that  the  existence  of  a  dangerous 
mine  of  political  discontent  in  the  very  centre  of  the 
nation  could  no  longer  be  tolerated ;  and,  on  the  motion 
of  those  two  Powers,  the  Diet  enjoined  the  Elector  to 
return  to  a  constitutional  regime.  Prussia  got  ready 
two  army  corps  to  enforce  this  decision  ;  but  meanwhile 
King  William  wrote  to  his  brother  Sovereign  at  Cassel 
a  kindly  letter  of  advice.  The  insane  potentate,  how- 
ever, refused  to  see  the  special  envoy,  a  General,  who 
brought  this  royal  missive,  turning  him  over  to  two 
ministerial  underlings.  As  satisfaction  for  this  insult 
the  King  of  Prussia  demanded  the  immediate  dismissal 
of  the  Hessian  Cabinet.  The  Elector  haughtily  refused, 
and  the  Prussian  Minister  was  at  once  withdrawn 
from  Cassel,  with  the  intimation  that  he  would  only 


nach 


THE   "OONFLIOT-TIME."  301 

return  when  the  demands  of  the  Diet  had  been  com- 
plied with.  After  a  month's  consideration  the  Elector 
deemed  it  wiser  to  make  a  show  of  yielding,  and  re- 
stored the  Constitution  of  1831.  But  the  despot  must 
return  to  his  measures  as  the  sow  to  its  wallow  in  the 
mire,  so  before  six  months  were  gone  he  had  again 
dismissed  his  Liberal  Ministry  and  sent  the  Chamber 
about  its  business. 

By  this  time,  however,  Herr  von  Bismarck  was  at 
the  helm  of  affairs  in  Prussia,  and  he  resolved  that  this 
cat-and-mouse  pleasantry  of  the  Hessian 

*  j&ger 

monarch  should  once  for  all  be  stopped.  Kurh 
He  therefore  signified  to  the  Elector  that,  unless  he 
promptly  did  as  he  was  told,  Prussia  would  take  the 
remedy  into  her  own  hands  and  exact  a  lasting  pledge 
against  the  recurrence  of  the  evils  complained  of.  This 
threat  received  additional  force  from  the  fact  that  the 
peremptory  note  containing  it  was  carried  from  Berlin 
to  Cassel  by  no  higher  diplomatist  than  a  cabinet- 
courier  —  the  famous  "Feldjager  nach  Kurhessen"  Within 
three  days  after  receiving  it,  the  terrified  Elector  had 
recalled  his  Ministers  and  convoked  the  representative 
assembly  of  his  realm.  Later  in  our  narrative  we  shall 
see  how  his  unwisdom  and  incapacity  to  rule  betrayed 
his  sceptre  into  worthier  hands;  but  meanwhile  the 
incident  just  described  served  to  show  the  Prussian 
nation  what  sort  of  a  man  had  now  been  called  to 
mould  its  destinies.  It  can  scarcely  fail  to  excite  sur- 
prise that  the  statesman  who  had  violated  the  Charter 
of  his  own  country  should  not  have  hesitated  to  bully 


302  PRINCE .  SISMARGK. 

a  neighbouring  Sovereign  into  constitutional  courses; 
but  to  Bismarck  expediency  has  always  seemed  a 
greater  political  virtue  than  consistency.  Prussia  her- 
self had  a  Constitution,  however  disagreeable  to  him 
the  fact ;  and  it  was  better,  he  thought,  that  the  power 
of  German  Princes  should  be  uniformly  curtailed,  than 
that  the  survival  of  one  autocrat  among  them  should 
lead  to  a  local  movement  which  might  end  in  a  further 
diminution  of  the  prerogatives  of  his  crowned  com- 
panions. 

King  William's  new  Foreign  Minister  had  not  been 
many  weeks  at  his  post  before  he  had  another  oppor- 
tunity of  showing  the  stuff  that  was  in  him. 

On  the  22nd  January,  1863,  an  insurrection  broke 
out  in  Warsaw.  A  provisional  Government  summoned 
the  Polish  nation  to  arms ;  and  the  Polish 
section  ofn"  nation  began  to  rally  round  the  standard 
of  our  old  friend  Mieroslawski,  whom  we 
caught  sight  of  emerging  from  a  Berlin  gaol  during 
the  stormy  days  of  March.  To  detail  the  causes  and 
nature  of  this  serious  uprising  against  the  Eussian 
Government  by  a  large  proportion  of  its  subjects,  who 
had  doubtless  very  substantial  grievances,  is  not  de- 
manded by  the  scope  of  this  work.  It  is  not  our  busi- 
ness to  consider,  with  philosophers  like  Mr.  Herbert 
Spencer,  whether  the  lapse  of  time  can  ever  convert 
a  wrong  into  a  right ;  or  to  follow  the  partitioning  pro- 
cess by  which  Poland,  from  being  an  independent  State, 
became  incorporated  with  the  territory  of  three  grasping 
neighbours.  A  rebellion  is  a  rebellion  under  whatso- 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME"  903 

ever  circumstances  it  occurs  —  whether  it  breaks  out 
in  Ireland,  in  India,  or  in  Russia  ;  and  for  a  de  facto 
Government  there  is  only  one  thing  to  do  —  and  that  is, 
with  all  possible  energy  to  put  it  down.  But  the 
Russian  Government,  strange  to  say,  while  perfectly 
clear  as  to  its  duty,  was  in  doubt  as  to  how,  and  even 
whether,  it  should  perform  it.  The  extent  and  sudden- 
ness of  the  insurrection  took  the  ruling  powers  at  St. 
Petersburg  fairly  aback,  and,  in  fact,  they  began  to 
show  signs  of  having  lost  their  heads. 

A  word  from  a  calm  and  vigilant  observer  at  Berlin 
helped  to  restore  their  self-possession.  From  his  long  resi- 
dence in  St.  Petersburg,  Herr  von  Bismarck 

Bismark  pro- 

was  well  acquainted  generally  with  Russian 


affairs.  He  knew  that  there  was  a  paralysing 
difference  of  opinion  among  the  political  doctors  on 
the  Neva  as  to  the  proper  cure  of  the  malady  that  had 
broken  out  upon  the  Vistula  ;  and  meanwhile  the  flames 
of  rebellion,  fanned  by  sympathetic  breezes  from  the 
West,  threatened  to  spread  and  seize  upon  contiguous 
Posen.  But  the  part  he  now  played  has  been  strangely 
misrepresented  by  most  writers.  For,  in  accounts  of  the 
Polish  drama,  it  has  hitherto  been  the  fashion  to  de- 
scribe Prussia  as  the  timid  and  obsequious  tool  of  a 
threatening  neighbour.  The  truth,  indeed,  is  that  at 
this  time  St.  Petersburg  was  very  much  the  docile 
pupil  of  Berlin.  As  soon  as  ever  the  Polish  rising  had 
assumed  dimensions  no  less  dangerous  to  Prussia  than 
to  Russia,  Herr  von  Bismarck  himself  took  the  initia- 
tive by  inquiring  of  Prince  Gorbchakoff  whether  his 


304  PRINCE 

Government  would  not  be  inclined  to  take  measures 
with  Prussia  for  combating  the  common  peril.* 

The  Eussian  Chancellor  was  only  too  eager  to  accept 
the  proposal,  and  in  February  the  two  Governments 
The  February  signe4  a  Convention  authorising  the  troops 
lon"  of  each  nation  to  cross  their  respective 
frontiers,  if  need  be,  in  pursuit  of  fugitive  rebels.  This 
assumed,  of  course,  that  the  Poles  of  Prussia  might  be 
tempted  to  rise  and  join  their  Russian  brethren,  and 
there  was  ground  enough,  it  must  be  admitted,  for  the 
fear.  The  disaffection  of  the  Eussian  Poles  was  deep 
and  inveterate ;  but  their  western  brothers,  though 
living  under  immensely  better  rulers,  had  by  no  means 
yet  become  reconciled  to  their  yoke.  Antipathy  of  race 
— the  strongest  of  all  political  passions — difference  of 
speech  and  of  faith,  all  tended  to  make  them  loathe 
their  German  masters,  and  long  for  an  opportunity  of 
renewing  the  struggle  for  independent  existence  which, 
by  the  decrees  of  Providence,  had  already  been  decided 
against  them  in  the  survival  and  supremacy  of  the 
fittest. 

Even  at   this   distance  of  time  Poland  is  still  the 

Ireland  of  Prussia.     Its  deputies,  both  in  the  Prussian 

and  Imperial  Parliament,  are  the  blind  and 

"Ireland" of       systematic  obstructors  of  the  Government: 

Prussia.  J 

and,    under  the    pretence    of   fighting    for 
liberty  of  conscience,  its  clergy  use  the  "Kulturkampf "  as 

*  This  fact  is  vouched  for  by  the  well-informed  writer  of  "  Berlin  and 
St.  -Petersburg,"  the  author  of  "Distinguished  Persons  in  .Russian 
Society." 


TBti  "  CONFLICT-TIM*!"  305 

a  means  of  encouraging  the  national  aspirations  of  their 
flocks.  Twenty  years  ago  the  seeds  of  insurrection  in 
Prussian  Poland  were  much  more  numerous  and  rohust  ; 
and,  as  the  responsible  servant  of  his  King  and  country, 
Bismarck  deemed  it  his  bounden  duty  to  prevent  their 
budding  into  open  and  luxuriant  rebellion.  Prussia 
therefore  signed  the  February  Convention,  and  drew  a 
strong  military  cordon  along  her  eastern  frontier  so 
as  to  prevent  the  westward  march  of  the  Eed  Spectre, 
as  at  a  later  day  she  also  did  to  exclude  contagion 
from  the  Black  Pest. 

This  precautionary  policy  of  Bismarck  aroused  the 
deepest  indignation  in  the  Chamber,   but  to  him    its 
best   justification  was    the  fact  that  none 
were  more  uncompromising  in  their  oppo- 

r  3 


.  Polish  plicy 

sition  than  the  Polish  deputies  themselves. 


One  of  them  even  went  the  length  of  pro- 
posing that  all  the  Slavonic  subjects  of  the  Prussian 
Crown  should  be  ceded  in  favour  of  an  independent 
Poland.  Not  less  vehement,  of  course,  as  hostile  critics, 
were  the  Progressists,  who  exhausted  all  their  copious 
store  of  argument  and  abuse  on  a  subject  which  Bis- 
marck contemptuously  called  the  "  sea-serpent  of  the 
European  Press/'  By  one  deputy  he  was  described  as 
a  "  Don  Quixote  "  and  "  a  tight-rope  dancer  ;  "  another 
compared  him  with  Catiline  ;  a  third  drew  a  parallel 
between  the  mobilisation  of  part  of  the  Prussian  army 
and  the  sale  and  shipment  of  Hessian  troops  to  America 
in  the  previous  century  ;  while  a  fourth  avowed  that,  if 
the  Government  got  into  trouble  with  any  foreign 
u 


306  PRINCE   SISMAHGK. 

Power  in  consequence  of  what  it  had  done,  Parliament 
would  not  grant  it  a  single  groschen  for  the  mainte- 
nance of  its  quarrel.  As  Bismarck  himself  afterwards 
said,  he  had  at  this  time  "  to  face  a  whole  world  of 
wrath  and  hatred  " ;  yet  he  remained  immovably  firm  in 
the  conviction,  that  he  would  have  been  a  traitor  to  his 
country's  interests  had  he  acted  otherwise. 

But  the  main  significance  of  Bismarck's  attitude  to 

the   Polish   rising   was   the  effect  it  produced  out  of 

Prussia    itself.      When    in   that    country    there    was 

a  numerous   and   influential    party   which 

England* ana       openly  denounced  the  measures  taken  by 

France.  . 

their  Government  against  the  spread  of  the 
insurrection,  it  was  not  to  be  wondered  at  that  Western 
Europe  should  warmly  espouse  the  cause  of  the  unhappy 
Poles.  Nowhere  was  a  deeper  and  more  sympathetic 
interest  taken  in  their  fate  than  in  liberty-loving 
England ;  and  had  it  transpired  then  that  Prussia  had 
not  only  signed,  but  also  suggested  the  February  Con- 
vention, the  contempt  and  hatred  of  the  British  de- 
mocracy for  the  Government  of  that  country  would  have 
known  no  bounds.  As  it  was,  abuse  enough  was  hurled 
from  London  to  Berlin.  The  British  Muse  sat  down  to 
twang  her  plaintive  lyre,  Parliament  opened  up  the 
fountains  of  its  impassioned  eloquence,  and  the  philan- 
thropists of  Exeter  Hall  stood  forth  to  spout.  But 
sympathy  with  the  Poles  was  not  confined  to  the 
people,  and  the  Government  essayed  to  brace  itself  up 
to  a  policy  of  intervention  on  their  behalf.  In  France, 
too,  especially  in  the  Tuileries,  the  names  of  humanity 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME"  307 

and  freedom  were  fervently  invoked  ;  and  the  world  was 
treated  to  the  astounding  spectacle  of  the  Imperial 
housebreaker — who  had  robbed  his  own  country  of  its 
dearest  jewel,  and  bathed  its  defenders  in  their  blood — 
affecting  to  intercede  for  mercy  and  liberty  to  an  alien 
and  insurgent  race. 

It    was    demonstrably    much    less    the    spirit    of 
humanity   than  the   lust   of  Prussian  territory   which 
induced  Louis  Napoleon  to  invite  the  active 
co-operation    of  England    and   Austria   in     Rursseii°bSrns 

his  fingers. 

favour  of  the  Poles  ;  but  the  Premier,  Lord 
Palmerston,  otherwise  their  friend,  and  the  advocate  of 
a  "  spirited  policy  of  intervention,"  would  in  this  case 
have  nothing  to  do  with  proposals  for  the  virtual  com- 
mission of  a  public  crime  in  the  sacred  name  of  liberty. 
Lord  John  Eussell  (Foreign  Minister)  was  more  en- 
thusiastic, and  therefore  less  wise.  It  is  true,  he 
declined  the  invitation  of  France  to  address  with  her 
and  Austria  a  Note  of  remonstrance  to  the  Prussian 
Government ;  but  he  instructed  Sir  Andrew  Buchanan 
to  inform  Herr  von  Bismarck  of  the  indignation  aroused 
in  England  by  Prussia's  "unjustifiable  intervention," 
and  to  demand  a  copy  of  the  Convention.  To  this  Herr 
von  Bismarck  calmly  replied  that,  in  the  circumstances, 
there  was  no  occasion  for  him  to  give  anything  of  the 
kind.  The  haughty  powers  of  Downing  Street  had  not 
yet  rightly  read  the  character  of  the  new  man  at  the 
helm  of  affairs  in  Prussia.* 

*  All  our  statements  here  are  based  on  official  documents,  collected  and 
published  by  Geheimrath  Hahn,  in  his  "  Furst  Bismarck"  &c. 

u  2 


308  P&INOE  BISMARCK. 

England,  who  had  declined  the  proposals  of  France 
with  respect  to  Prussia,  now  herself  took  the  lead,  and 
invited  the  Powers  who  had  signed  the  Treaty  of 
Vienna  to  make  a  common  effort  in  St.  Petersburg  for 
the  good  of  the  Poles,  amounting  in  fact  to  their 
almost  complete  emancipation  from  Eussian 

pou?sacoid          rule.     To  this  singularly  inconsiderate  de- 
water  on  Eng-  . 

mand  .Bismarck  again  replied  that  an  in- 


dependent Poland  would  necessitate  an 
increase  in  the  Prussian  army  to  the  extent  of  100,000 
men  ;  that  the  concessions  proposed  by  England  would 
never  satisfy  the  Poles,  who  would  be  sure  to  aim  at 
restoring  their  territorial  integrity  ;  and  that,  after 
having  for  so  long  warned  Eussia  against  the  national 
aspirations  of  the  Poles,  he  could  not  now  consistently 
advise  her  to  grant  them  autonomy. 

Nevertheless  England,  fortified  with  the  diplomatic 
support  of  France  and  Austria,  hastened  to  press  upon 
Eussia  a  scheme  of  Polish  reform  which,  if  analogously 
recommended  to  England  by  Eussia  with  respect  to 
Ireland,  would  have  aroused  a  storm  of  wrathful  protest 
throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of  the 
British  Empire.  Thrice  was  Eussia  almost 
threateningly  invited  to  adopt  the  advice  of 
the  Powers,  and  thrice,  certain  of  her  Prussian  neigh- 
bour, she  disdainfully  refused.  France  and  Austria  at 
last  fell  away  from  England,  who  made  a  fourth  repre- 
sentation at  St.  Petersburg,  and  then  the  matter  was 
ingloriously  dropped.  The  insurrection  was  suppressed, 
but  it  was  not  suppressed  until  after  ten  thousand  of 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  309 

Poland's  bravest  sons  had  been  slaughtered,  or  sent  to 
Siberia,  by  that  "  icy-hearted  Muscovite/'  Mouravieff. 
Nor  can  it  for  a  moment  be  doubted  that  to  England 
and  her  humanitarian  co-operators  was  largely  due  the 
extent  of  this  national  disaster.  For,  after  all  chance  of 
military  success  was  gone,  the  courage  of  the  insurgents 
was  sustained  by  the  ill-founded  hope  of  active  inter- 
vention from  the  West,  which  never  came.  On  seeing,  at 
last  that  nothing  but  "  words,  words  "  was  to  be  expected 
from  the  diplomatic  champions  of  liberty,  their  spirits 
sank,  their  resistance  collapsed,  and  the  flames  of  their 
rebellion  were  quenched  in  blood. 

The  course  of  the  insurrection  allowed  the  odious 
Convention  of  February  to  remain  pretty  much  a  dead 
letter;  but  still,  the  obloquy  which  then 

1    J  Considerations 

attached  to  its  Prussian  author  has  not  SErck^po- 
altogether  left  him.  It  is  neither  our 
business  to  arraign  nor  to  excuse.  Not  long  after  the 
February  compact  had  been  signed,  an  English  minister 
declared  that  Prussia  had  in  no  wise  thereby  infringed 
her  international  duties.  The  rebel  Poles  had  never 
risen  to  the  rank  of  belligerents.  In  appreciating  the 
worth  of  a  statesman,  it  is  much  easier  to  estimate  his 
positive  than  his  negative  achievements.  To  the 
popular  imagination,  the  valour  that  wages  a  victorious 
war  will  always  seem  of  more  account  than  the  wisdom 
which  averts  its  horrors.  Yet  the  merit  in  the  latter 
case  is  probably  greater  than  in  the  former.  In  joining 
hands  with  Russia  to  suppress  the  Polish  rising,  Herr 
von  Bismarck  was  admittedly  animated  by  a  desire  to 


310  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

conciliate  the  good-will  of  his  Northern  neighbours — to 
secure  their  neutrality,  in  fact,  in  the  European  com- 
plication into  which  he  well  knew  Prussia  was  about  to 
enter ;  but  he  unquestionably  also  felt  bound  to  prevent 
certain  districts  of  Prussia  from  becoming  a  prey  to  the 
rebellion  that  had  broken  out  in  adjacent  Poland.  And 
who  shall  say  which  was  the  preponderating  motive  -for 
the  course  he  took  ?  In  any  case,  he  evinced  his 
belief  in  the  principle  that  the  interests  of  his  own 
country  ought  to  be  the  prime  rule  of  action  for  every 
statesman.  But  above  all  things  he  now  proved  to 
astonished  Europe  that,  in  treating  with  Prussia,  it  had 
to  deal  with  a  very  different  Power  from  what  the 
leading  German  State  had  been  ever  since  the  death  of 
Frederick  the  Great.  Hitherto,  the  action  of  Herr  von 
Bismarck  had  been  merely  confined  to  Germany.  The 
Polish  incident  now  enabled  him  to  make  his  appearance 
on  the  European  stage ;  and  the  public  could  only  say 
that,  whatever  the  merits  of  the  new  actor,  his  style  was 
one  with  which  they  were  not  at  all  familiar.  Here 
was  a  man  who,  hated,  opposed,  and  suspected  in  his 
own  country,  and  with  scarcely  a  friend  but  his 
Sovereign,  nevertheless  had  the  courage  to  say  con- 
temptuous "  Nay  "  to  the  proudest  nati6ns  of  Europe, 
and  to  go  his  own  wilful  way,  fearless  of  consequences. 

By  signing  the  February  Convention  he  had  con- 
ciliated Eussia,  with  whom  Prussia  had  hitherto  been 
"  sadly  out  of  tune ;  "  and  it  was  equally  his  desire  to 
secure  the  benevolent  neutrality  of  France  in  the  war 
he  knew  must  shortly  come.  At  Paris  he  had  done 


THE    "CONFLICT-TIME."  811 

all  he  could  to  ingratiate  his  policy  with  Napoleon, 
whose  favour,  on  assuming  the  reins  of  power  at  Berlin, 
he  found  further  means  of  courting.  A 


Treaty  of  Commerce  had  lately  been  con-    cii?atesCFrimce 

*  with  a  favour- 

cluded  (March,  1862)  between  Trance  and 


Prussia  in  the  name  of  the  Customs 
Union.  At  first,  Prussia  naturally  made  her  adhesion  to 
the  contract  dependent  on  the  similar  assent  of  her 
companions  in  the  Zollverein  ;  and  the  wisdom  ot  the 
reservation  was  fully  seen  when  several  of  the  other 
German  States,  worked  upon  by  jealous  Austria,  stood 
forth  to  repudiate  the  bargain  which  had  been  made  in 
their  general  interest  by  their  commercial  chief.  But 
by  this  time  the  foreign  affairs  of  Prussia  were  in  the 
hands  of  a  man  whose  long  experience  in  the  Diet  told 
him  how  to  deal  with  back-  stairs  opposition  of  this 
kind.  Bismarck  was  determined  that  the  Commercial 
Treaty  with  France  should  not  thus  be  crushed  in  the 
bud  ;  so  Prussia's  unwilling  partners  in  the  Customs 
Union  were  now  plainly  told  that  they  must  either 
subscribe  to  the  action  of  their  chief,  or  at  once  get 
ready  a  deed  of  separation.  Only  on  the  basis  of  the 
Treaty  with  France  would  the  Zollverein  —  which 
lapsed  in  1865  —  be  renewed.  One  by  one  the  re- 
calcitrant States,  skilfully  managed  by  Bismarck,  gave 
in  to  Prussia.  The  commercial  advantages  of  the 
Treaty  were  great  and  mutual,  but  the  main  thing 
about  it  now  to  be  remembered  is  that,  by  consti- 
tuting herself  its  champion,  Prussia  did  much  to  con- 
ciliate the  political  good-will  of  a  neighbour  whose 


312  PRINOE   BISMARCK 

opposition   to    her   schemes  she   had   every  reason   to 
avert.* 

To  Napoleon,  Bismarck,  when  in  Paris,  had  made  no 

secret   of  his  intentions  with    respect  to  Austria;  and 

he  had  not  been  many  weeks  at  the  helm 

£ivSaaCwarn-      of  affairs  before,  with  characteristic  energy, 

ing  to  Austria. 

he  began  the  task  of  translating  his  ideas 
into  acts — a  task  which  was  rendered  all  the  more 
difficult  by  his  being  simultaneously  engrossed  with 
the  labour  of  breaking  the  will  of  Parliament.  "  The 
relations  of  the  two  Powers,"  said  Bismarck  to  Count 
Karolyi,  Austrian  Ambassador  at  Berlin,  "  cannot 
continue  on  their  present  footing.  They  must  change 
either  for  the  better  or  the  worse.  It  is  the  honest 
desire  of  the  King's  Government  that  they  should 
change  for  the  better,  but  if  the  necessary  advances  are 


*  Referring  to  the  relations  between  France  and  Germany  in  the 
Reichstag  (February  21,  1879),  Bismarck  said : — "  I  had  every  reason  for 
keeping  up  this  good  understanding,  by  means  of  which  I  succeeded — not 
only  whilst  I  was  Envoy  in  Paris,  but  throughout  the  difficulties  of  the 
Polish  (1863)  crisis,  when  France  was  opposed  to  us — in  maintaining  such  a 
favourable  disposition  towards  us,  that,  in  the  Danish  question,  France's 
friendly  behaviour  cut  the  ground  from  under  the  feet  of  other  Powers 
which  had  a  fancy  not  to  allow  us  to  fight  out  our  quarrel  with  Denmark 
single-handed.  Still  more,  during  our  heavier  struggle  with  Austria  in 
1866,  France's  self-restraint  would  certainly  not  have  been  carried  so  far  as 
(fortunately  for  us)  it  was,  had  I  not  bestowed  every  possible  care  upon 
our  relations  with  her,  thereby  bringing  about  a  '  benevolent '  connection 
with  the  Emperor  Napoleon,  who,  for  his  part,  liked  to  have  treaties  with 
us  better  than  with  others  ;  but  who  undoubtedly  did  not  foresee  that  the 
1866  war  would  terminate  in  our  favour.  He  reckoned  upon  our  being 
beaten,  and  upon  then  according  us  his  protection — benevolently,  but  not 
gratuitously.  Politically  speaking,  however,  it  was  lucky  for  us,  in  my 
opinion,  that  he  remained  amicably  disposed  towards  us,  and  particularly 
towards  me,  up  to  the  battle  of  Sadowa." 


THE    "CONFLICT-TIME."  313 

not  made  by  the  Imperial  Cabinet,  it  will  be  requisite 
for  Prussia  to  look  the  other  alternative  in  the  face,  and 
to  make  her  preparations  accordingly."  "  Finally," 
wrote  Count  Karolyi,  a  few  weeks  later,  "Bismarck 
placed  before  us,  in  so  many  words,  the  alternative  of 
withdrawing  from  Germany  and  transferring  our  centre 
of  gravity  to  Of  en  (Buda-Pesth),  or  of  seeing  Prussia  in 
the  ranks  of  our  enemies  on  the  occasion  of  the  first 
European  war." 

Here  was  a  splendid  specimen  of  that  habit  of 
plain-speaking  which  has  ever  been  the  peculiarity  and 
strength  of  Bismarck.  It  was  the  result  of  Austria's 
persistent  endeavours  to  ignore  the  tacit  agreement  in 
virtue  of  which  "  Austria  was  secure  of  Prussia's 
support  in  European  questions,  whilst  yielding  a  free 
field  to  Prussia  in  her  German  politics."  Feigning  a 
zeal  for  Federal  reform,  Austria  had  come  forward  with 

the  so-called  "  Delegate  Scheme  "  —  a   pro- 

Austria's 

ject  which,  emanating  from  the  brain  of  the 


Saxon  Minister,  Count  Beust,  was  nothing 
more  than  a  plan  to  convoke  a  sort  of  National  Assembly, 
with  deliberative  powers  only,  composed  of  delegates 
from  the  Chambers  of  the  various  States.  The  states- 
man who  was  ruling  without  a  budget  perceived  the 
futility  of  this  "half-measure,"  and  met  it  with  the 
startling  proposal  of  a  regular  German  Parliament. 
But  he  had  also  formal  reasons  for  opposing  the  project, 
seeing  that,  contrary  to  custom,  it  had  been  introduced 
without  the  previous  assent  of  Prussia;  and  he  inti- 
mated that,  if  the  Diet  again  attempted  to  overstep  its 


314  PEINGE    BISMARCK. 

legitimate  powers  in  the  matter,  he  would  at  once  with- 
draw the  Prussian  representative  in  it,  and  cease  to 
recognise  its  authority.  This  was  language  to  which 
the  somnolent  assembly  in  the  Thurn-and-Taxis  Palace 
was  quite  unaccustomed,  but  it  came  from  Herr  von 
Bismarck,  and  most  of  the  members  still  remembered 
what  sort  of  a  man  he  was. 

The  Diet  doubted,  and  Austria  hesitated,  but  not 
long.  King  William  and  his  Minister  had  of  late  fallen 
into  extremely  bad  odour  with  the  majority  of  men  in 
Prussia,  in  Germany,  in  Europe ;  and  now,  thought 
Austria,  was  the  time  to  bind  her  rival  when  she  was 
down.  She  would,  therefore,  invite  her  to  a  banquet, 
and  smite  her  into  helplessness  as  she  drained  the  wine- 
cup.  This  banquet  was  represented  by  the  Congress  of 
German  Princes  which  met  at  Frankfort  in 
rfoSSS?"  the  summer  of  1863,  and  made  the  world 

Princes  with-  .,  .,  ,.       ,  p       i       i 

Tprusa£ng  sml^e  a*  the  accompanying  display  of  plush 
and  gold  -  embroidery,  of  high-sounding 
titles  and  low- whispering  lackeys,  of  solemn  entries,  and 
grand  processioning,  and  other  dramaturgic  grandeur. 
But,  lo !  when  the  guests  were  all  met,  the  King  of 
Prussia  tarried  and  came  not.  And  where  was  he  ? 
Drinking  the  waters  of  Gastein,  and  hearkening  unto 
the  words  of  his  trusted  Minister,  who  counselled 
him  on  no  account  to  go  near  Frankfort  and  all  its 
carnival  foolery.  The  Emperor  Francis  Joseph  him- 
self had  repaired  to  Gastein  to  invite  the  King  to 
the  Congress,  but  the  King  courteously  declined  the 
honour.  BJglitly  divining  the  cause  of  His  Majesty's 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  315 

refusal  the  Emperor  sent  for  Bismarck  and  endeavoured 
to  win  him  over  to  his  scheme,  but  found  the  Prussian 
Premier  so  gently  inexorable  that  he  abruptly  terminated 
the  audience.  -  Well,  if  King  William  could  not  inter- 
rupt his  prescribed  course  of  waters  and  come  to 
Frankfort  himself,  would  he  not  depute  some  Prince  of 
his  house  to  appear  in  his  stead  ?  No,  that  was  equally 
out  of  the  question. 

Opened  by  the  Emperor  Francis  Joseph  in  person, 
the  Congress  of  Sovereigns  sent  to  the  King  of  Prussia, 
by  the  hands  of  the  King  of  Saxony,  a  col- 
lective invitation  to  do  what  he  had  already     windbag? 

J        gery." 

most  firmly  refused  to  do  ;  but  His  Majesty 
remained  obdurate  to  this  second  appeal,  flattering  as  it 
was  in  one  sense  though  rude  in  another.  Bismarck  was 
nearly  beside  himself.  "  I  was  so  nervous  and  excited," 
he  once  said,  "  when  the  King  of  Saxony  came,  that  I 
could  scarcely  stand  on  my  legs,  and  in  closing  the  door 
of  the  adjutant's  room  I  tore  off  the  latch."  "  I  cannot 
leave  the  King  on  account  of  all  this  Frankfort  '  wind- 
baggery  '  '  (Windbeuteleieri),  wrote  Bismarck  to  his  wife 
from  Gastein  in  the  beginning  of  August.  And  then, 

a  few  days  after,  from  Baden : 

« 

"  The  restlessness  of  my  existence  is  unbearable ;  for  ten  weeks  I 
have  been  doing  clerk's  work  in  an  h6tel,  and  then  in  Berlin  again. 
This  is  not  the  kind  of  life  an  honest  country  squire  ought  to  lead, 
and  I  regard  every  one  who  attempts  to  oust  me  from  office  as  a  bene- 
factor. Here  in  my  room,  too,  the  Hies  buzz  and  tickle  and  sting,  so 
that  I  am  seriously  anxious  for  a  change,  which  the  train  from  Berlin 
will  bring  me  in  a  few  minutes  in  the  form  of  a  courier,  with  fifty 
despatches  that  contain  nothing." 


316  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

The    Frankfort    "  windbaggery,"    referred    to    by 

Bismarck,   was  little  other   than   a   repetition   of  the 

scheme   of   Federal  reform  which   he   had 

Its  Nature. 

already  rejected,  with  a  gaudy  embellish- 
ment in  the  shape  of  a  Princely  Directorate  at  the  head 
of  the  Diet  that  would  have  assured  to  Austria  the 
preponderance  in  all  national  affairs.  Now  Bismarck 
was  very  moderate  in  his  demands.  He  did  not  want 
Prussian  influence  -in  the  Diet  to  supplant  that  of 
Austria.  All  he  demanded  was  the  perfect  equality  of 
these  two  Powers;  so  that  the  interests  of  Prussia, 
whose  Federal  population  was  greater  than  that  of 
Austria,  should  not  be  at  the  mercy  of  the  latter  State. 
But,  indeed,  the  conditions  of  Federal  reform  were  such 
as  even  Austria  herself  knew  her  rival  would  never 
accept  ;  and  Bismarck  believed  that  her  only  object  in 
proposing  them  was  to  force  on  Prussia  a  pretext  for 
retiring  from  the  Confederation  altogether,  thus  leaving 
her  unchallenged  mistress  of  the  German  field.  At  the 
same  time  he  pointed  out  the  insufficiency  of  the  pro- 
posed changes,  and  horrified  the  Sovereigns  by  again 
suggesting  the  election  of  a  regular  German  Parliament, 
"in  which  Prussia  would  have  to  make  no  sacrifice 
which*  was  not  for  the  good  of  all  Germany." 

But  the  Congress  of  Princes  heeded  not   the   pro- 
tests and  counter-proposals  of  a  Power  which 

Prussia  is 

nad  refused  to  join  their  deliberations.  Wholly 


mStere  son?e-      under  the  influence  of  Austria,  it  hastened  to 

thing  about  a 

approve  the  Federal  Beform  Act  put  forward 
by  that  State,  and  seat  it  to  King  William  with  the 


317 

implied  alternative  of  acquiescence  in  the  new  or- 
ganisation or  exclusion  from  it.  The  great  querelle 
d'AUemand  about  the  Emperor's  beard  seemed  to  be 
ripening  fast.  Things,  indeed,  looked  very  black. 
"It  wants  a  humble  confidence  in  God,"  wrote  Bis- 
marck, "  not  to  despair  of  the  future  of  our  country." 
Bismarck  did  have  this  confidence  in  God,  in  addition  to 
which  he  firmly  believed  in  himself  and  in  the  big 
battalions  of  his  royal  master".  That  these  battalions 
would  shortly  have  to  take,  the  field,  he  did  not  for  a 
moment  doubt.  Accustomed  as  the  German  people 
were,  to  hear  the  false  alarm-cry  of  "wolf "  proceeding 
from  Frankfort,  they  only  now  shrugged  their  shoulders 
on  hearing  Prussia  muttering  something,  with  clenched 
teeth,  about  a  casus  belli ;  but  they  had  not  yet  become 
acquainted  with  the  character  of  the  man  at  the  head  of 
her  Government.  Now,  thought  that  man,  there  was 
clearly  nothing  left  for  .Prussia  but  to  cut  with  the 
sword  the  Gordian  knot  of  the  German  question.  She 
was  becoming  the  plaything  of  Austria,  and  the  laugh- 
ing-stock of  her  petty  neighbours.  Austria,  it  is  true, 
after  all  her  talking,  made  no  serious  effort  to  realise 
the  scheme  of  reform  which  had  been  sanctioned  by  the 
Sovereigns ;  but  still  she  had  betrayed  her  hand.  She 
had  boldly  shown  that  nothing  would  content  her  but 
the  complete  subjection  of  Prussia  to  her  will;  and 
Bismarck  was  resolved,  not  only  that  Prussia  should 
never  commit  a  second  Olmiitz,  but  that  she  should  also 
be  revenged  on  her  first  penitential  pilgrimage  thither. 
And  the  sooner  the  better.  The  hour  which  Bismarck 


318  PRINCE   BISMAECK. 

knew  must  come,  and  had  so  long  been  yearning  for, 
seemed  at  last  on  the  very  point  of  striking.  But 
suddenly  an  event  occurred  which  caused  the  hand  of 
time  to  stand,  if  not,  indeed,  to  go  back. 

On   the   night   of    the    14th   of   November,    1863, 

Frederick  VII.,  King  of  Denmark,  died ;  and  Frankfort 

at  once  ceded  its  prerogative,  as  the  centre 

Death   of    the 

mar!  and0!!*     °^  European  interest,   in  favour  of  Copen- 

consequences.        -,  AT  •  t>  •  i  • 

nagen.  And  now,  it  we  were  writing  an 
epic  poem,  we  should  invoke  the  heavenly  Muse  of 
History  to  descend  and  shed  a  clear  directing  light  on. 
one  of  the  darkest  and  most  intricate  episodes  that  ever 
perplexed  poor  human  writer.  By  the  death  of  the 
King  of  Denmark  the  Schleswig-Holstein  question 
again  burst  upon  distracted  Europe — that  question 
which  Prince  Metternich  said  was  "  the  bone  on  which 
the  Germans  were  whetting  their  teeth,"  which  Lord 
Palmerston  described  as  a  "  match  that  would  set 
Europe  on  fire,"  which  an  irreverent  Frenchman 
vowed  would  remain  even  after  the  heavens  and  the 
earth  had  passed  away,  and  which  Bismarck  himself 
declared  could  furnish  matter  for  a  "  play  representing 
the  intrigues  of  diplomacy."  "  When  I  was  made  a 
Prince,"  said  the  Chancellor  once,  "  the  King  insisted 
upon  putting  Alsace-Lorraine  into  my  coat  of  arms. 
But  I  would  much  rather  have  had  Schleswig-Holstein ; 
that  is  the  campaign,  politically  speaking,  of  which  I 
am  proudest." 

Unfortunately,  the  world  has  not  yet  been  furnished 
with  all  the  material  necessary  to  enable  it  to  appreciate 


"CONFLICT-TIME."      .  3l& 

this   diplomatic   masterpiece.     Bismarck,  however,  has 
himself  informed  us  that  he  put  his  hand  to  it  imme- 
diately after  the  death  of  the  King  of  Den- 
mark.    "We   had  at  that  time   a   Cabinet     "diplomatic 

masterpiece." 

Council  when  I  made  one  of  the  longest 
speeches  of  which  I  have  ever  been  guilty,  wherein  there 
was  much  that  must  have  appeared  extraordinary  and 
impossible  to  my  audience,  and  from  the  astonished 
looks  of  my  colleagues  they  evidently  thought  I  had 
lunched  too  freely/'  Bismarck  had  a  distinct  end  in 
view,  but  he  did  not  very  well  see  how  it  was  to  be 
attained.  In  fact  the  "  diplomatic  masterpiece,"  to 
which  he  now  addressed  himself,  was  to  resemble  the 
chef  tfceuvre  of  those  writers  of  romance  who  begin  a 
chapter  without  exactly  seeing  how  it  will  end,  and 
make  some  one  knock  at  the  door  of  their  hero's  room 
without  themselves  knowing  who  is  to  come  in. 

Frederick  VII.  died,  and  the  burning  question  arose 
— who  was  to  reign  in  his  stead  ?     Not  over  the  Danish 
Kingdom  pure  and  simple,  for  that  was  clear  enough ; 
but  over  the  two  provinces  of  Schleswig  >and 
Holstein  which  had  long  been  attached  to     wilnSistein 

Question. 

it  by  a  sort  of  personal  or  dynastic  relation- 
ship, in  the  same  way  as  Luxemburg,  a  member  of  the 
Germanic  Confederation,  was  subject  to  the  throne  of 
Holland,  or  as  Hanover,  another  member  of  that  Con- 
federation, owed  allegiance  to  the  English  Crown.  The 
deceased  Sovereign,  like  so  many  of  his  predecessors,  had 
been  King  of  Denmark  and  Duke  in  Schleswig-Hol- 
stein ;  and,  as  Duke  of  Holstein  and  Lauenburg,  he  had 


320  PRINCfl  ^ 

been  represented  in  the  Germanic  Diet.  The  popula- 
tion of  Holstein  was  wholly  German,  that  of  Schleswig 
mainly  so ;  and  the  former  province,  but  it  only,  be* 
longed  to  Germany  by  a  political  sort  of  union,  while 
personally,  so  to  speak,  like  Schleswig,  appertaining  to 
Denmark. 

How  this  monstrously  anomalous  relationship  had 

come  into  existence  it  is  as  little  the  duty  of  the  brief 

biographer  to  set  forth,  as  it  is  the  business  of  the  practical 

moralist  to  inquire  into  the  origin  of  evil. 

Two  opposing 

inedMbeesin  Suffice  it  to  say  that  for  a  long  time  the 
relationship  had  existed,  but  not  without 
constant  efforts  being  made  to  adjust  it.  The  Danes,  on 
one  side,  had  steadily  striven  to  complete  their  dominion 
over  the  Duchies ;  while  the  Germans,  on  the  other,  had 
been  no  less  persevering  in  their  efforts  to  bring  them 
entirely  within  the  foid  of  the  great  Fatherland.  For 
many  years  the  Duchies  had  been  exposed  to  the  opera- 
tion of  two  opposing  tendencies — lust  of  unnatural  con- 
quest on  one  side,  and  the  principle  of  nationality  on  the 
other;  and  it  began  to  seem  as  if  the  unfortunate 
provinces  would  soon  have  to  succumb  to  the  rush  of 
these  conflicting  currents,  in  the  same  way  as  corn  or 
barley  yields  to  the  action  of  a  couple  of  grindstones. 
They  had  been  repeatedly  overrun  by  Danish  and 
German  armies  ;  they  had  been  deluged  with  the  blood 
of  their  own  sons ;  they  had  been  dosed  with  treaties, 
and  bandaged  with  protocols,  and  doctored  by  con- 
ferences. But  we  need  not  look  further  back  into  the 
catalogue  of  their  woes  than  the  year  1852,  when  all 


THE  "  CONFLICT-TIME."  321 

their  past  struggles  and  vicissitudes  were  summed  up  in 
the  Treaty  of  London, 

By  that  Treaty — to  which  England,  France,  Prussia, 
Austria,  Russia,  Sweden,  Norway,  and  Denmark,  were 
parties — the  succession  to  the  throne  of  Den-  The  Treat  of 
mark  and  the  Duchies  was,  in  default  of  ^nd™  *1852°>- 
heirs  male  of  Frederick  VII.,  assured  to  Prince 
Christian  of  Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gliicks- 
burg,  with  the  express  stipulation  that  the  existing 
rights  and  mutual  obligations  of  the  King  of  Denmark 
and  the  Germanic  Confederation,  in  respect  of  Hoi- 
stein  and  Lauenburg,  should  not  thereby  be  altered. 
Now  these  rights  and  obligations  were,  to  a  great 
extent,  based  on  an  agreement  which  was  the  result  of 
long  negotiations  (in  1851  and  1852)  between  Denmark 
on  one  side,  and  Prussia  and  Austria  (acting  on  their 
own  initiative  for  the  Diet)  on  the  other,  and  which 
formed  the  consideration  for  the  accession  of  the  two 
latter  Powers  to  the  Treaty  of  London.  Stated  in  brief 
and  general  terms,  the  King  of  Denmark  undertook  not 
to  incorporate  Schleswig  with  the  rest  of  his  monarchy, 
nor  to  do  anything  tending  thereunto,  while  guarantee- 
ing to  both  the  Duchies  the  continuance  of  their  large 
measure  of  traditional  autonomy,  with  the  common  use 
and  enjoyment  of  certain  local  institutions. 

In  spite,  however,  of  these  solemn  engagements,  the 
process  of  "  Danification  "  in  the  Duchies 

.     ,  .  ,    .  .        ,  ,        Unjust  "Dani 

was  carried  on  in  a  more  determined  and     flcation"ofthe 

Duchies. 

masterful  way  than  ever,  and  the  Diet  was 
frequently  called  upon  to  remonstrate  with  the  Govern- 
v 


322  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

mentof  Copenhagen.*  Years  passed,  and,  from  merely 
omitting  to  fulfil  their  engagements,  the  Danes  actually 
proceeded  to  violate  them.  Like  the  Austrians,  they 
had  heen  keenly  watching  the  course  of  the  parlia- 
mentary conflict  in  Prussia ;  and,  like  the  Austrians  with 
their  Nrstentag  schemes  of  Federal  reform,  they  saw 
that  now  was  their  opportunity,  when  Prussia's  hands 
were  bound,  or  seemed  to  be  bound,  by  her  internal 
troubles  and  her  Polish  insurrection  difficulties.  Now 
was  the  time,  thought  Frederick  VII.  ;  and  on  the  30th 
March,  1863,  he  issued  his  famous  Patent  dissolving 
the  traditional  union  between  Schleswig  and  Holstein, 
and  decreeing  certain  changes  in  their  Constitution 
which  were  tantamount  to  the  incorporation  of  the 
former  province  with  the  rest  of  his  kingdom  proper — 
an  end  which  he  had  solemnly  bound  himself  not  to 
compass.  Trammelled  though  he  was  with  manifold 
domestic  cares,  Bismarck  at  once  protested  against  this 
flagrant  breach  of  treaty  obligations.  The  Diet  like- 
wise took  the  matter  in  hand,  and,  despite  the  urgent 
intervention  of  England,  who  was  virtually  told  to 
mind  her  own  business,  f  it  decreed  (October  1)  "  Federal 
execution "  in  Holstein-  Lauenburg  for  the  defence  of 

*  See  p.  228,  ante. 

f "  On  October  23rd  I  had  to  notify  to  Earl  Russell  that  the  Diet 
declined  the  proposal  of  mediation  contained  in  her  Majesty's  despatch  of 
September  29,  which  I  had  placed  in  the  hands  of  the  President  of  the 
Diet  on  the  morning  of  October  1  (the  day  on  which  "  execution "  was 
decreed).  That  offer  was  declined  in  courteous  terms  on  the  ground  that 
the  affairs  of  Holstein  and  Lauenburg  were  essentially  affairs  of  the 
Union,  and  that,  as  they  were  such,  the  interference  of  Foreign  Powers 
could  not  be  permitted." — Sir  A.  Malet  (Representative  of  England  at  the 
Diet)  in  his  "  Overthrow  of  the  Germanic  Confederation,"  p.  54. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  323 

German  interests  in  those  oppressed  Duchies.*  Mean- 
while the  Danes  remained  defiant,  and  on  the  13th 
November  their  Parliament  passed  a  law  incorporating 
Schleswig  with  Denmark.  On  the  1 5th  Frederick  VII. 
died  before  he  could  sanction  the  new  Constitution ;  but, 
yielding  to  the  clamours,  of  the  Copenhagen  mob,  his 
successor,  Christian  IX.,  signed  it  before  he  had  been  two 
days  on  the  throne.  Such,  then,  was  the  state  of  the 
Schleswig-Holstein  question  when  the  death  of  Frederick 
VII.  of  Denmark,  and  his  succession  under  the  Treaty 
of  London  by  Christian  IX.,  enabled  Bismarck  to  use 
that  question  as  a  welcome  tool  for  tackling  the  work 
of  German  unity. 

King  of  Denmark,  and  Duke  in  Schleswig-Holstein 
— that  was  the  title  of  Christian  IX.      But  this  double 
title,  which  had  been  conferred  upon  him  by  the  new 
Pragmatic  Sanction,  did  not  long  remain 
uncontested.     Another   Richmond  at   once     claimant  to 

the  Duchies. 

appeared  in  the  field  in  the  person  of  Prince 
Frederick  of  Augustenburg,  claiming  to  be  legitimate 
heir  to  the  Duchies,  and  denouncing  the  King  of  Den- 
mark's dominion,  over  them  as  a  "  usurpation  and 
unrighteous  act  of  violence."  Neither  the  Germanic 
Diet  as  a  body,  nor  the  Duchies  themselves,  nor  the 
various  pretenders  to  their  crown,  had  been  consulted  by 
the  signatories  of  the  new  Pragmatic  Sanction,  and  this 

*  Most  accounts  of  the  last  phase  of  the  Schleswig-Holstein  question 
convey  the  impression  that  execution  in  the  Duchies  was  only  decreed 
after  the  death  of  Frederick  VII.  From  the  above  it  will  be  seen  that  the 
stone  was  actually  set  rolling  before  the  King  died. 

v  2 


324  PtiltfOE  BISMAtiQK. 

was    the    result.     The    proclamation   of    Frederick   of 

Augustenburg  was  received  in  the  Duchies 

cSecklfthe  en-     themselves,    and   throughout  all  Germany, 

thusiasmofhis  ..,  ,  p  i  T     *,  i 

countrymen        with  a  shout  or  applause  \  and,  by  a  large 

for  the  Prince  J 

bu^¥caiSe!       majority,  the    Prussian    Chamber    at   once 
passed  a  motion  calling  upon   all  German 
States  to  assist  the  Prince-Pretender  in  enforcing  his 
claims. 

"  Wait  a  minute,  gentlemen ;  not  so  fast,  please,"  said  Bis- 
marck, in  substance,  in  the  debate  on  the  motion.  "  You  forget 
that  we  (Prussia  and  Austria)  are  parties  to  the  Treaty  of  London, 
which  recognises  King  Christian  IX.  as  Duke  of  Schleswig-Holstein. 
What  ?  Would  you  have  us  break  a  Treaty  1  Where  is  your  public 
conscience  1  It  is  true  that,  by  endorsing  the  wrongful  act  of  his 
predecessor,  he  has  already  entitled  us  to  withdraw  from  that 
Treaty  ;  but  surely  it  is  for  us  to  say  when  it  shall  suit  our  conveni- 
ence to  do  so.  By  disavowing  and  undoing  the  acts  of  Frederick 
VII.,  the  new  King  may  still  claim  our  adherence  to  the  Treaty  of 
London,  and  we  must  have  patience  a  little  to  see  if  he  does  so  ;  but 
it  must  surely  be  clear  to  you  that,  if  we  already  quash  that  agree- 
ment, all  the  Danish  obligations  towards  the  Duchies,  whereon  it  is 
based,  will  also  fall  to  the  ground,  and  thus  we  should  have  no 
longer  any  warrant  for  championing  German  rights  in  Schleswig, 
which  is  meanwhile,  don't  you  see,  the  essential  matter.  The  ques- 
tion of  succession  is  quite  another  thing,  and  one  that  can  wait ;  but 
surely  the  wrongs  of  our  oppressed  compatriots  must  first  be  righted. 
Let  us  first  set  their  house  in  order,  and  then  it  will  be  easy  to 
decide  who  shall  rule  over  them." 

We  know  that,  in  less  than  two  years,  the  policy 
above  set  forth  resulted  in  the  incorporation  of  the 
Duchies  with  Prussia,  and  in  the  furnishing  of  that 
cause  of  quarrel  which  Bismarck  had  long  been  studying 
to  fasten  on  Austria.  This  was  the  result.  Was  it 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  325 

premeditated  ?  There  can  be  little  doubt  that  it  was  ; 
and  there  is  little  wonder  that  Bismarck  should  have 
always  regarded  the  execution  of  his  Schleswig-Holstein 
policy  as  his  diplomatic  masterpiece.  The  end  was 
pre  -deter  mined  ;  the  means  had  to  be  improvised  to  suit 
circumstances. 

"  Iniquitous  spoliation  of  Denmark  !  "  resounded  all 
over  Europe,  especially  in  England.  That  there  was 
"  iniquity  "  in  the  matter  somewhere  could 

J        J        m  "Launcelot 

not  be  denied,  but  on  whom  was  it  to  be 


fixed  ?  On  the  Danes,  or  on  Herr  von  Bis- 
marck, or  on  the  German  nation  ?  As  for  the  Danes,  we 
have  seen  how  they  kept  their  word  in  regard  to  the 
Duchies.  With  respect,  again,  to  the  German  people, 
they  were  calling  upon  Bismarck  to  tear  up  the  Treaty 
of  London  with  the  clamorous  persistence  of  the  Fiend 
who  stood  at  the  elbow  of  Launcelot  Gobbo  and  urged 
him  to  run  away  from  his  master  the  Jew.  But  though 
his  conscience  would  have  served  him  to  run,  his  con- 
venience bade  him  stay.  All  Germany  was  agreed  that 
the  Duchies  must  now,  once  for  all,  be  withdrawn  from 
the  despotic  influence  of  Denmark  ;  and  to  this  extent 
Bismarck  was  privately  at  one  with  his  countrymen. 
The  only  point  of  difference  between  them  was  as  to  the 
semblance  of  loyalty  in  their  several  modes  of  procedure, 
and  as  to  the  disposal  of  the  recovered  children  which, 
to  quote  the  words  of  Carlyle,  had  be*en  so  "  dreadfully 
ill-nursed  by  Niobe  Denmark."  The  nation  loudly 
demanded  the  provinces  for  the  Prince  of  Augusten- 
burg,  thus  asking  to  add  another  propping-stone  to 


326  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

the  loose  and  crumbling  edifice  of  the  Confederation 
which  Bismarck  had  sworn  in  his  soul  to  level  with 
the  ground.  And  could  Samson  Agonistes  uncon- 
cernedly view  the  addition  of  another  pillar  to  the 
Dagon- temple  which  he  was  about  to  shake  down? 

Prussia  and  Austria  had  no  difficulty  in  persuading 

the  Diet  to  carry  out  its  decree  (of  the  1st  October)  for 

federal  execution  in  Holstein.     About  the 

The    Diet    de- 

tfonSinXHoi'  middle  of  December — being  a  month  after 
ciine's  touinter-  the  death  of  the  King  of  Denmark — a  com- 

f  ere  in  Schles- 

bined  army,  twelve  thousand  strong,  of 
Saxons  and  Hanoverians  entered  that  Duchy;  and 
Frederick  of  Augustenburg,  who  was  proclaimed 
Sovereign  under  its  segis,  took  up  his  seat  in  Kiel.  "  So 
far,  so  good,  although  not  altogether  well,"  thought 
Bismarck ;  "  but  Schleswig,  after  all,  is  our  main 
object."  Would  the  Diet,  therefore,  be  good  enough  to 
request  the  King  of  Denmark  to  annul  the  unjust  Con- 
stitution (incorporating  Schleswig  with  his  monarchy) 
which  was  the  first  act  of  his  reign ;  and,  in  case  of 
refusal,  order  the  seizure  of  that  other  Duchy  as  a 
pledge  for  the  fulfilment  of  Denmark's  solemn  engage- 
ments towards  the  German  Powers  with  respect  to  it  ? 
No,  strange  to  say,  the  Diet  would  do  nothing  of  the  kind ; 
and  it  was  supported  by  the  Pan-Germanists,  who  were 
horrified  by  the  opening  of  this  possible  door  of  escape 
to  Denmark,  and  by  the  prospect  of  her  recovering  her 
old  sway  over  the  Duchies.  The  Diet  had  ratified  the 
agreements  between  Denmark  on  one  side,  and  Prussia 
and  Austria  on  the  other,  which,  as  far  as  concerned  the 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  327 

two  latter  Powers,  formed  the  basis  of  the  Treaty  of 
London  ;  but  now,  when  called  upon  to  insist  upon  the 
performance  of  those  agreements,  it  drew  back.  It  was 
burdened  with  theoretical  scruples  ;  its  jurisdiction  only- 
extended  to  Holstein  ;  it  could  not  interfere  with 
Schleswig.  "  Very  well  then,"  said  Bismarck  (who 
secretly  thanked  Heaven  for  once  that  the  Diet  was 
composed  of  professorial  instead  of  practical  men)  ; 
"  very  well  then  ;  if  you  won't,  we  will,  and  must  ;  " 
and  he  forthwith  announced  that  Prussia  and  Austria 
would  take  it  upon  themselves  to  enforce  the  promise 
which  had  been  primarily  made  to  them. 

That  the  Diet  was  perfectly  right  in  decreeing 
federal  execution  in  injured  Holstein,  there  can  be  no 
possible  doubt.  That  Prussia  and  Austria 

How  Bismarck 

were  not,  in  the  circumstances,  every  bit  as 


much  warranted  in  sending  their  troops 
into  equally  oppressed  Schleswig,  it  would  be  difficult,  if 
not  impossible,  to  show.  Bismarck  regarded  the  treat- 
ment of  Schleswig  by  the  Danes  in  precisely  the  same 
light  as  the  signatories  of  the  Treaty  of  Berlin  would 
have  considered  the  non-fulfilment  of  the  Sultan's 
promises  of  autonomy  in  Eastern  Koumelia,  and  as  they 
did  look  upon  his  recalcitrancy  with  respect  to  Dulcigno. 
He  maintained  that  the  upholding  of  German  rights, 
not  only  in  Holstein,  but  also  in  Schleswig,  was  a 
"  national  duty  of  honour  "  (to  quote  his  own  words)  ; 
just  as  the  British  Government  had  described  the  en- 
gagements of  Denmark  with  respect  to  these  Duchies 
as  a  "  debt  of  honour,  ''  With  indubitable  right  upon 


328  PRINCE  BISMARCK 

his  side,  he  committed  himself  to  a  course  which  ex- 
posed him  to  the  charge  of  perpetrating  a  huge  public 
wrong.  It  is  seldom,  one  may  say  at  least,  that  a 
policy  of  aggression  has  been  so  plausibly  vindicated  by 
the  principles  of  justice. 

"  Grant  us  twelve  million  thalers  to  carry  out  our 

policy,"    said    Bismarck   to   the    country.       "Nay,    by 

Heaven,  not  one    single  groschen  will  we 

The   Chamber 

ro?p1!es1tom  &lve  V011>  '  answered  the  furious  deputies ; 
schries°wig-Hoi-  "  and  furthermore,  in  consideration  that  this 

stein  policy. 

policy  ol  yours,  among  its  other  ruinous 
consequences,  can  only  lead  to  the  restoration  of  the 
Duchies  to  Denmark  (sic),  we  shall  employ  all  the  legal 
means  at  our  disposal  to  oppose  and  thwart  it."  * 
"  Very  well  then,  gentlemen,"  resolutely  but  cheerfully 
rejoined  Bismarck  (who  smiled  in  his  sleeve  at  the  idea 
of  his  returning  the  Duchies  to  Denmark),  "  Fleeter e  si 
nequeo  superos,  Acheronta  movebo;"\  "if  you  will  not 
give  us  the  money  we  require  in  a  constitutional  way, 
we  must  simply  take  it  where  we  can  get  it.  .  .  . 
And  let  me  tell  you,  gentlemen,  and  also  the  foreign 
countries  you  speak  of,  that  if  we  find  it  necessary  to 
wage  war,  we  shall  do  so  with  or  without  your  ap- 
proval."! "  Strike  up  the  '  Hohenfriedberg  March/ 
and  away  with  you  at  once  to  Schleswig,"  he  exclaimed 
(in  effect)  to  the  Austro -Prussian  troops,  who  were 

*  Quoted  from  a  resolution  proposed  by  Schulze  -  Delitzsch,  and 
carried  by  275  against  57,  the  same  majority  as  refused  the  credit  de- 
manded. 

f  Speech  of  21st  January,  1864, 

|  Speech  of  17th  April, 


THE  "  CONFLICT.TIME."  329 

waiting    for    this    order     like    impatient    hounds    in 
leash. 

Prussia  and  Austria  advancing  hand  in  hand  !  How 
had  this  incredible  result  been  achieved?  By  what 
means  had  the  huntsman  succeeded  in  coupling  for  the 
chase  these  quarrelsome  and  incompatible 

Austria  and 

hounds  ?  But  a  few  weeks  ago,  and  Prussia  vanShand 
fiercely  muttered  something  about  a  casiis 
belli ;  but  now  she  had  opened  her  fraternal  arms  to  her 
scheming  rival.  And  her  implacable  rival  readily 
accepted  the  proffered  embrace,  little  divining  that  it 
would  prove  as  the  fatal  hug  of  a  bear.  Bismarck  had 
now  completely  turned  the  tables  on  Prince  Schwarzen- 
berg,  who  had  sworn  to  "  abase  Prussia,  and  then  abolish 
her."  Unwitting  Austria  was  already  outwitted,  and  it 
only  remained  to  efface  her.  She  had  fallen  into  the  pit 
that  was  prepared  for  her.  Austria,  who  had  hitherto 
been  the  champion  and  favourite  of  the  minor  States, 
had  now  parted  with  the  secret  of  her  influence  over 
them.  Austria,  who  had  always  been  the  mainstay  and 
spirits  rector  of  the  Diet,  had  now  been  induced  to 
discard  its  authority,  and,  indeed,  to  sign  the  deed  of  its 
dissolution.  From  the  moment  the  two  great  Powers 
resolved  to  act  together  in  opposition  to  the  Diet,  the 
Germanic  Confederation  was  to  all  intents  and  purposes 
dead  and  buried.  A  great  result !  But  what  had 
induced  Austria  to  contribute  to  it  ? 

In  the  first  place,  she  was  anxious  to  retrieve  the 
prestige  of  arms  which  she  had  so  ingloriously  lost  in 
the  Italian  war ;  secondly,  she  could  not  bear  the 


330  PRINCE  B1SMARGK. 

thought  of  Prussia  reaping  all  the  honour,  and  possible 
profit,  of  an  enterprise  in  which  she  herself  was  clearly 
my  Austria  entitled  to  take  part;  thirdly,  she  was 
honestly  anxious  to  extricate  herself  from  the 
false  and  perilous  position  (towards  Prussia)  in  which  she 
had  been  placed  by  her  Furstenstag  scheme  of  Federal 
reform ;  and  fourthly,  and  above  all,  she  was  filled  with 
alarm  at  the  progress  of  democracy  in  the  Duchies. 
What  might  not  become  of  all  the  thrones  of  Europe, 
insidiously  argued  Bismarck,  if  the  operation  of  this 
principle  of  nationality  were  allowed  free  course  ;  if  the 
Schleswig-Holsteiners  were  permitted  to  erect  into  a 
precedent  the  caprice  of  a  populace  in  the  choice  of  their 
ruler?  And  if  any  nation  had  reason  to  dread  and 
discountenance  the  principle  of  nationalities,  was  it  not 
Austria,  with  her  poly  ethnic  conglomeration  of  conflict- 
ing races?  These  motives  and  arguments  prevailed, 
and  Bismarck  had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing  Austria 
express  her  readiness  to  share  the  odium  which  his 
occupation  of  Schleswig  evoked  in  Germany,  and,  indeed, 
in  Europe.  By  masterly  diplomacy  he  had  managed  to 
enlist  the  services  of  a  rival  Power  to  aid  him  in  gaining 
a  territorial  acquisition  which  he  had  predetermined  to 
secure  for  Prussia,  as  he  had  also  discovered  means  of  put- 
ting Austria  in  the  wrong  before  the  European  tribunal 
in  the  quarrel  which  he  was  contriving  to  fix  upon  her.* 
On  the  1st  February,  1864,  the  Austro-Prussian 
army  of  occupation  f  crossed  the  Eider,  and  within  a 

*  Malef  s  '*  Overthrow  of  the  Germanic  Confederation,"  p.  14. 

f  The  allied  army  of  occupation,  which  was  at  first  commanded  by  old 


THE  "  CONFLICT-TIME."  331 

week  it  had  victoriously  engaged  the  Danes  at  several 
places,  driven  them  from  the  Danewerk,  swept  them 
northward  as  with  a  hroom,  and  forced  the 

War  with 

bulk  of  them  to  take  refuge  behind  the  opposition  to  it 
redoubts  of  Diippel,  their  last  refuge  and 
bulwark  in  Schleswig.  This  was  swift  and  effective 
work,  and  what  added  to  its  merit  was  the  fact  that  it 
was  accomplished  in  spite  of  difficulties  which,  to  a  man 
of  less  force  of  will  and  keenness  of  insight  than  Bis- 
marck, would  have  proved  deterrent  or  insuperable. 
With  the  vast  majority  of  his  own  countrymen  he  was 
as  unpopular  as  Strafford  before  his  impeachment.  Not 
only  had  they  refused  him  the  extraordinary  supplies 
demanded  to  bear  him  out  in  his  Schleswig-Holstein 
policy,  but  also  again  rejected  the  military  estimates. 
The  parliamentary  conflict  was  still  fiercely  raging ; 
the  country  was  still  without  a  budget;  and  even 
the  King  had  been  charged  with  disregarding  the  admo- 
nition which  once  made  the  great,  but  unscrupulous, 
Napoleon  pause  :  "  Votre  Majeste  va  fusilier  la  loi."  * 
And  while  the  Chamber  had  vowed  to  do  all  in  its  power 

Field-marshal  Wrangel  (Prussian),  was  composed  of  an  Austrian  Corps  of 
20,000  men  under  Marshal  von  Gablenz,  and  a  Prussian  Corps  of  25,000 
under  Prince  Frederick  Charles — in  all  45,000  men  and  ninety  guns. 
These  forces  advanced  in  two  columns  or  armies — the  Austrians  with  the 
Prussian  Guards  on  the  left,  the  rest  of  the  Pmssians  on  the  right.  On 
the  Danes  evacuating  their  primary  line  of  defence,  the  Danewerk,  the 
left  army  advanced  into  and  occupied  Jutland,  while  the  Prussians  on  the 
right  remained  to  deal  with  the  redoubts  of  Diippel.  After  their  capture, 
Prince  Frederick  Charles  was  made  commander-in-chief  of  the  allied 
troops,  his  place  as  commander  of  the  Prussian  corps  being  taken  by 
Herwarth  von  Bittenfeld. 

*  Speech  of  Professor  Gneist,  21st  January,  1864. 


332  FRINGE   BISMARCK 

to  "oppose  and  thwart "  Bismarck's  policy,  it  was  equally 
assailed  by  the  Governments  of  the  minor  Grerman 
States.  He  virtually  stood  alone,  in  all  the  solitariness 
of  misunderstood  genius.  And  to  the  opposition  which 
hampered  him  at  home,  there  was  added  the  intervention 
with  which  he  was  threatened  from  abroad. 

Of  this  threatened  intervention  the  chief  deviser  was 

England,  and  England  now  played  a  part  which,  in  the 

words  of  one  best  able  to  judge,*  "  lowered 

English  threat  . .          ,  . .  ,     ,    „.  . 

of  foreign  inter-     our  national  reputation  and  left  a  stigma 

vention. 

of  egotism  on  the  nation."  In  spite  of  the 
opportunities  that  had  been  afforded  them  in  the  pre- 
vious year  by  the  incidents  of  the  Polish  rising,  Her 
Majesty's  advisers  had  not  yet  comprehended  the 
character  of  the  Prussian  Minister  of  Foreign  Affairs, 
or  they  never  would  have  addressed  to  "  M.  de  Bis- 
marck," as  they  called  him  (we  find  Earl  Eussell  even 
dubbing  him  "  Count,"  long  before  he  was  raised  to  that 
rank),f  so  much  mere  "  waste  paper."J  It  was  natural 
enough  for  the  English  Government  to  fear  that  the 
dismemberment  of  the  Danish  monarchy  might  lead  to 
an  undue  and  dangerous  predominance  of  Prussia  on 
the  Baltic,  but  it  was  surely  incumbent  upon  it  to  inquire 
into  the  merits  of  the  quarrel  which  threatened  to,  end 
in  the  realisation  of  that  fear.  Unfortunately,  there  is 
nothing  to  show  that  it  performed  this  duty  with  the 
requisite  impartiality  of  mind ;  and  its  obliquity  of 

#  Sir  A.  Malet,  "  Overthrow  of  German  Confederation,"  p.  27. 
f  Hem,  p.  88. 

J  Sir.  A.  Malet  was  one  day  told  by  Baron  v.  der  Pfordten  that  he 
"  looked  on  Earl  Russell's  despatches  as  so  much  waste  paper,"  p.  15. 


THE  "  CONFLIOT-TIME"  333 

judgment   was    rendered    still    more   crooked   by   the 
contagion  of  popular  feeling. 

It  is  strange  that  the  most  matter-of-fact  people  in 
the  world  should  be  at  times  also  the  most  sentimental. 
When  the  great  war  between  France  and 

. ,  f  Inconsistencies 

Germany  broke  out,  there  were  tew  average  of  the  British 
Englishmen  who  did  not  believe  that  Ger- 
many was  in  the  right,  and  France  in  the  wrong.  And 
yet  when  unjust  France  had  been  beaten  down,  and 
victorious  Germany  was  pressing  on  to  reap  the  natural 
and  necessary  reward  of  her  triumphs,  there  were  few 
of  the  same  Englishmen  who  did  not  cry  out  to  spare 
poor  France,  and  not  be  too  hard  on  great,  noble,  and 
highly  civilised  France  in  the  day  of  her  dire  affliction 
and  utter  prostration  in  the  dust.  It  was  far  worse 
with  the  Danish  war.  The  dispute  which  led  to  it  was 
a  much  more  recondite  question  than  the  Spanish  can- 
didature of  the  Prince  of  Hohenzollern,  and  few  English- 
men ever  got  to  the  bottom  of  it  all.  It  was  enough  to 
arouse  their  sympathies  to  see  a  brave  little  people  like 
the  Danes  heroically,  but  hopelessly,  struggling  against 
two  huge  bully  Powers  like -Austria  and  Prussia;  and 
these  sympathies  were  still  further  deepened  by  the  fact 
of  the  nation  having  lately  received  into  its  midst — to 
be  their  future  Queen — that  "  sea-king's  daughter  from 
over  the  sea/'  whose  winning  graces  were  well  calcu- 
lated to  excite  the  pity  of  all  chivalrous  hearts  for  her 
hard-pressed  countrymen  and  kinsfolk. 

Still,  the  attitude  of  most  Englishmen  to  the  Danish 
war  was  much  more  creditable  to  their  hearts  than  to 


334  PBINCE  BISMARCK. 

their  heads ;  and  had  their  Government  not  been  simi- 
larly affected,  it  would  not  have  exposed  itself  to  the 
Bismarck  dis-  humiliating  reproach  of  having,  by  its  policy 
joiery  aifd  m?"  of  words  without  acts,  left  an  enduring  stiff  ma 

naces"ofEng-  i  . 

of  reproach  upon  the  nation.  Bismarck  was 
already  too  well  acquainted  with  the  motives  of  the 
European  Cabinets  to  pay  serious  heed  to  the  fire  of 
menace  and  remonstrance  which  continued  to  play  upon 
him  from  London.  No  continental  statesman  had  ever, 
in  similar  circumstances,  dared  to  defy  Britannia  as 
Herr  von  Bismarck  now  did.  Her  "  cajolery  and 
menaces  "  he  treated  with  equal  disdain. *  Baulked  in 
everyone  of  her  repeated  efforts  to  deter  the  Austro- 
Prussian  allies  from  crossing  the  Eider,  England  at  last 
sought  the  co-operation  of  France,  Eussia,  and  Sweden, 
in  order  to  produce  "  sufficient  moral  effect "  on  Prussia, 
or,  failing  that,  to  give  "  material  assistance  "  to  the 
Danes.  But,  alas !  the  affairs  of  Prussia  were  now  in 
the  hands  of  a  man  impervious  to  the  operation  of  mere 
"  moral  effect ; "  and  he  had  already  taken  good  care  to 
make  himself  sure  of  his  men,  in  expectation  of  such  a  con- 
tingency as  the  present.  Eussia,  as  we  have  seen,  had 
been  laid  under  a  counter-obligation  to  Prussia  by  the 
services  of  the  latter  in  the  matter  of  the  Polish  insur- 
rection ;  f  while  not  only  had  France  been  propitiated 

*  Malet,  p.  26. 

t  "I  can  only  say  that  the  Convention  (with  Russia)  has  done  ns 
no  harm  in  all  this  Danish  question,  and  that  it  is  doubtful  whether, 
without  it,  Russia's  relations  to  us  in  all  past  and  future  phases  of  this 
question  would  he  so  friendly  as  they  actually  are." — Speech  in  the 
Chamber,  June  1,,1864 


TEE  "  CONFLIGT-TIME."  335 

by  a  favourable  commercial  treaty,  and  indulged  with 
delusive  prospects  of  unmolested  conquest — who  can 
tell  where? — but  her  Emperor  also  was  as  piqued  at 
England's  rejection,  as  he  was  flattered  by  Prussia's 
acceptance,  of  his  idea  of  a  Congress  of  Sovereigns  for 
readjusting  the  affairs  of  Europe,  to  which  he  had 
issued  invitations  shortly  before  the  death  of  the  King 
of  Denmark. 

The  war  went  on  disastrously  for  the  overmatched 
Danes,  and  every  achievement  of  the  allies  was  the 
signal  for  repeated  acts  of  protest  or  proposal  on  the 
part  of  England.  Now  it  was  mediation,  then  a  proto- 
col, then  a  conference,  and  then  an  armistice ;  but  Bis- 
marck was  ever  ready  with  his  answer  to  these  devices. 
At  length,  when  the  allies  had  entered  Jutland,  the 
Danes  declared  themselves  ready  to  negotiate  on  the 
basis  of  the  agreements  of  1851-52.  "Quite  im- 
possible," replied  Bismarck ;  "  too  late  now,  these  no 
longer  exist ;  war  cancels  all  treaties  ;  the  only  thing 
we  can  agree  to  is  a  Conference  without  definite 
basis,  and  without  an  armistice."  But,  meanwhile,  the 
necessity  for  insisting  on  the  latter  condition  was  dis- 
pensed with  by  the  crowning  victory  of  the  18th  April, 
when  the  Prussians  captured  the  bravely-defended  re- 
doubts of  Diippel,  and  made  themselves 

complete   masters  of  the   situation.     Great     of  Duppei  in- 
fluences Da- 
WaS  the   enthusiasm  in  the  land,  and  loud     jSeignT1 

the  cheers  for  "  King  William,  the  Libera- 
tor  of  Schleswig,"       as,   with   his   "  blood-and-iron " 

*  "  Provinzial  Correspondent." 


336  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

Minister  at  his  side,  he  reviewed  the  storming -columns 
in  the  Sundewitt  three  days  after  their  bloody  victory.* 

Quickened  in  their  action  by  the  stimulus  of  ac- 
complished facts,  the  representatives  of  the  Powers  who 
had  signed  the  Treaty  of  London  (with  Count  Beust 
for  the  Germanic  Diet,  which  was  not  a  party  to  it) 
now  again  met  in  Conference  in  the  same  capital,  to 
clip  into  trim  and  seemly  shape  with  the  scissors  of 
diplomacy  the  cloth  which  had  been  slashed  from 
the  web  of  history  by  the  sword  of  war ;  but,  un- 
fortunately, one  of  the  first  things  they  learned  was 
that  the  ground,  so  to  speak,  had  been  cut  away  from 
beneath  their  very  feet,  and  that  they  had  no  vantage- 
ground  and  fulcrum  wherewith  to  move  the  world. 
On  the  1 5th  May,  the  moment  of  expediency 

Bismarck  at  J  * 

tS»  Treaty  a?8     f°r  which  he  had  been  waiting  having  now 

come,  Bismarck  announced  that  Prussia  no 

longer  deemed  herself  bound  by  the  Treaty  of  London. 

The     Fiend    had    at     last     prevailed    on     Launcelot 

*  The  storming  of  the  redoubts  of  Diippel  was  one  of  the  most  credit- 
able feats  of  the  kind  in  the  annals  of  modern  warfare.  The  position  of 
the  Danes  may  be  described  by  saying  that  they  took  refuge  on  a  narrow 
peninsula— the  Sundewitt— the  neck  of  which  was  defended  by  ten 
formidable  redoubts  connected  by  earthworks,  and  forming  a  tout 
ensemble  not  unlike  the  famous  lines  of  Torres  Yedras.  These  works  the 
Prussians  laboriously  approached  in  regular  siege  form  by  zig-zag  and 
parallel,  and  after  a  terrific  cannonade,  lasting  from  daybreak  till  10  o'clock 
on  the  morning  of  the  18th  April,  earned  them  all  with  a  rush  in  less  than 
half  an  hour.  The  works  of  Arabi  Pasha  at  Tel-el-Kebir  were  captured 
as  rapidly  by  British  troops.  It  is  time,  the  entrenchments  at  Tel-el-Kebir 
were  not  so  formidable  as  those  at  Diippel,  nor  are  Egyptian  troops  equal 
to  Danish  soldiers  ;  but,  on  the  other  hand,  the  storming  of  Tel-el-Kebir 
had  not  been  preceded,  as  at  Diippel,  by  a  destructive  and  demoralising 
cannonade,  in  the  course  of  which  11,500  shots  were  fired  into  the  Danish 
lines. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME"  337 

Gobbo  to  run  away  from  his  master  the  Jew.  The 
hour  of  justification  for  this  step,  he  argued,  had 
arrived  when  the  Danes  broke  the  engagements  on 
which  the  Treaty  of  London  was  based  ;  and  if  he  did 
not  denounce  it  sooner,  as  he  was  entitled  to  do,  this 
was  merely  out  of  consideration  for  the  other  non- 
Danish  parties  to  it,  and  from  a  desire  to  give  the 
Danes  the  usual  days  of  grace.  But  they  had  remained 
stubborn  in  their  injustice,  and  had  appealed  to  arms, 
and  war  annulled  all  agreements.  That  he  was  not 
bound  to  consult  the  other  signatory  Powers  before 
abandoning  the  Treaty  he  held  to  be  proved  by  the 
fact  that  ratifications  of  it,  so  far  as  Prussia  was  con- 
cerned, had  only  been  exchanged  between  Berlin  and 
Copenhagen.  Was  this  good  and  sufficient  reasoning, 
or  was  it  not  ? 

Is  it  necessary  to  detail  the  proceedings  of  a  Con- 
ference which  ended  in  smoke ;  as  how,  indeed,  could  it, 
in  the  circumstances,  have  ended  otherwise  ? 
Either   driven  mad  by  the  gods  who  meant     feren^of 

London. 

to  destroy  them,  or  deluded  with  hopes 
of  succour  from  friends  who  could  do  nothing  but 
leave  them  in  the  lurch,  the  Danes  remained  stone-deaf 
to  the  moderate  proposals  of  the  allies,  despite  the 
"  barking  of  all  the  dogs  that  could  be  let  loose  upon 
them  at  the  Conference  ;  "  *  and  thus,  from  "  complete 
independence,"  Bismarck  was  forced  to  raise  his  demand 
to  "  complete  Separation  "  of  the  Duchies.  The  Danes 
were  obstinately  deaf,  and  Bismarck  was  inexorably 

*  Letter  of  Bismarck  to  a  friend  (not  named),  16th  May,  1864. 
W 


838  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

determined.     The    Conference    ended   where    it    com- 
menced, and  the  combatants  again  flew  to  arms. 

The  allies  tightened  their  grasp  on  Jutland;    the 

Prussians,  by  another  brilliant  storming  feat,  captured 

the  island  of  Alsen*   on  which  the  enemy 

And  the  Treaty      ,       ,  ',  „  „  . ,  ,    . 

of  Vienna       had   sought    refuge   after   their    expulsion 

(October,  1864). 

from  Diippel ;  and  now  at  last,  confronted 
with  such  dire  realities,  the  scales  began  oO  fall  from 
the  eyes  of  the  brave  but  blinded  Danes.  The  Cabinet 
at  Copenhagen  was  changed,  and  King  Christian  im- 
ploringly appealed  to  the  "  magnanimous  goodwill  and 
the  lofty  sense  of  justice  "  of  the  allied  Sovereigns.  On 
the  1st  of  August  the  exercise  of  these  noble  qualities 
was  evinced  in  the  Preliminaries  of  Peace,  by  virtue  of 
which  the  King  of  Denmark  unconditionally  surrendered 
to  the  rulers  of  Prussia  and  Austria  the  Duchies  of 
Schleswig,  Holstein,  and,  Lauenburg ;  and,  on  the  30th 
of  October  following,  there  was  signed  on  this  unaltered 
basis  the  Treaty  of  Vienna,  f 

*  In  the  deep  darkness  of  a  summer  night — 29th  June — the  Prussians 
in  160  boats  crossed  the  channel — about  800  yards  broad — separating  the 
peninsula  of  the  mainland,  which  the  Diippel  redoubts  guarded,  from  the 
island  of  Alsen,  whereon  the  Danes  had  again  strongly  entrenched  them- 
selves down  to  the  water's  edge ;  and,  under  a  murderous  fire,  landed  and 
made  themselves  masters  of  the  position.  It  was  a  feat  which  recalled 
the  "  Island  of  the  Scots,"  as  sung  by  Aytoun ;  or  the  crossing  of  the 
Danube  by  the  Russians  at  Simnitza  (in  1877),  as  described  by  Forbes. 

f  See  Appendix. 


CHAPTEE  VII. 

THE     "  CONFLICT-TIME." 
2. —  With  tJie  Chamber  and  Austria. 

IN  the  diplomatic  negotiations  connected  with  the 
course  and  issue  of  the  Danish  war,  Bismarck,  of 
course,  took  an  active  part ;  and  in  the  Business  ^ 
interval  between  the  capture  of  Alsen 
(29fch  June)  and  the  conclusion  of  the  Treaty  of  Vienna 
(30th  October),  we  find  him  darting  about  like  a  meteor 
from  place  to  place  on  business  and  on  pleasure.  First 
he  goes  to  Karlsbad  with  the  King,  to  confer  with  the 
Emperor  of  Austria  on  the  conditions  of  peace  ;  and 
then,  "  with  two  persons  to  assist  him  with  their  cali- 
graphic  services,"  he  shoots  across  to  Vienna,  "  to  be 
stared  at  by  the  people  like  a  new  rhinoceros  for  the 
zoological  garden/'* 

*  Says  the  authoress  of  "  Prince  Bismarck,  Friend  or  Foe  ?  "  (authoress 
of  "  German  Home  Life  ") :  "  It  is  fresh  within  the  writer's  memory  that 
when,  after  the  Treaty  of  Gastein  "  (mistake,  surely,  for  before  the  Treaty 
of  Vienna  ? ).  "  Prince  Bismarck  came  to  Vienna  with  Counts  Beust  and 
Rechberg,  the  successful  diplomatist,  putting  aside  for  the  moment  the 
cares  of  State,  came  sauntering  unconcernedly  one  summer  evening  across 
the  Volksgarteu  and  round  the  circular  orchestra,  where  Strauss's  band 
was  playing  waltzes  as  only  Strauss's  band  can  play  them.  It  was  towards 
ihe  Prussian  statesman  that  all  eyes  turned;  it  was  of  the  Berlin  diplo- 
matist that  all  tongues  wagged.  His  very  unpopularity  had,  for  the  nonce, 
made  him  popular.  He  looked  worn  and  haggard,  but  his  powerful  figure 

w  2 


$40  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

"I  am  leading  a  laborious  life ;  five  hours  a  day  with  these  tough 
Danes,  and  not  at  the  end  of  it  yet.  I  have  just  spent  an 
hour  in  the  Volksgarten,  unfortunately,  not  incognito,  as  seventeen 
years  ago,  but  stared  at  by  all  the  world;  this  theatrical  exist- 
ence is  extremely  uncomfortable,  when  one  wants  to  drink  a  glass 
of  beer  in  peace." 

Then  again,  from  Gastein,  whither  he  had  followed 
the  King  a  few  days  later : 

"  Work  gets  worse  and  worse  .  .  .  it  is  a  life  like  Leporello's, 
'never  peace  by  day  or  night,  nothing  that  doth  me  delight'  " 

From  Grastein,  on  the  special  invitation  of  Francis 
Joseph,  he  next  accompanied  the  King  to  Vienna  and 
Schonbrunn. 

"It  is  a  very  strange  thing,"  he  wrote  to  his  wife  from  the 
latter  place,  "  that  I  am  occupying,  the  very  rooms  on  the  ground 
floor,  looking  on  to  the  private  garden  in  which  we  trespassed  by 
moonlight  about  seventeen  years  ago.  .  .  To-day  I  shot  fifty- 
three  partridges,  fifteen  hares,  and  one  rabbit,  and  yesterday,  eight 
stags  and  two  moufflons.  I  am  quite  sore  in  the  hand  and  cheek 
with  the  exertion," 

At  Vienna,  Bismarck  was  treated  with  great  dis- 
tinction, and  was  decorated  by  Francis  Joseph  with  the 
order  of  St.  Stephen  for  his  Schleswig-Holstein  services, 
as  King  William  had  previously  given  him  his  highest 
order,  the  Black  Eagle.  "  Ah,  if  I  had  but  him  /  "  once 
involuntarily  exclaimed  the  Emperor  about  this  time,  on 
hearing  some  one  severely  rate  the  Prussian  Premier. 
From  Vienna  he  again  followed  the  King  to  Salzburg 
and  Baden,  where 
"  couriers,  inkstands,  audiences  and  visits  whiz  about  me  without 

was  unbent,  and  his  hearty  laughter,  heard  across  the  hum  of  conversation, 
proved  that  the  Prussian  Minister  had  not  lost  all  taste  of  the  salt  and 
savour  of  life  in  the  manifold  cares  of  State." 


THE    "CONFLICT-TIME."  341 

interruption  ...  I  do  not  care  to  show  myself  at  all  on  the 
promenade,  for  nobody  will  leave  me  in  peace." 

So  from  Baden  he  had  to  fly  to  Pomerania,  and  then 
to  his  "  beloved  Biarritz  "  by  way  of  Paris, 

"  where  I  should  like  very  much  to  live  again  .  .  .  for  after  all 
it  is  only  a  convict's  life  that  I  lead  in  Berlin,  when  I  think  of 
the  independence  I  enjoyed  abroad." 

In  Biarritz  he  spent  the  greater  part  of  October,  revel- 
ling in  the  glories  of  that  sunny  and  picturesque  clime — 
"  wonderfully  blessed  by  God  '*  —but  yet  occasionally 
deep  in  "  maps  and  books;"*  and  then  we  find  him  on 

*  Says  Jules  Hansen,  a  Danish  journalist  employed  to  manipulate  the 
European  Press  in  favour .  of  his  country  during  the  Schleswig-Holstein 
trouble,  and  who  at  this  time  had  an  interview  at  Biarritz  with  Bismarck, 
whom  he  had  followed  thither :  "  The  Prussian  Minister  occupied  the 
ground  floor  of  the  famous  and  now  historic  maison  rouge  situated  on  the 
shore  of  the  Bay  of  Biscay,  at  the  foot  of  the  hill  on  which  stood  the  villa 
of  the  Emperor.  On  my  entering  his  cabinet  de  travail  I  found  him 
chatting  with  Prince  Orloff,  then  Russian  Minister  at  Brussels,  who  soon 
withdrew  and  left  me  alone  with  M.  de  Bismarck.  King  William's  Prime 
Minister  was  standing  before  a  large  table  covered  with  maps  and  books, 
and  he  took  up  and  began  to  play  with  a  long  Catalonian  knife — a  weapon, 
it  may  be  remarked,  which  every  visitor  to  Biarritz  buys  (as  a  souvenir) 
from  the  Spanish  pedlars  who  hawk  the  country.  This  was  the  first  time 
I  had  seen  M.  de  Bismarck ;  but  he  did  not  then  make  upon  me  the  deep 
impression  which  he  afterwards  did.  He  even  seemed  to  show  some  em- 
barrassment in  opening  the  conversation.  But  at  last,  after  reading  my 
letter  of  introduction,  he  began  by  abusing  the  Yicomte  de  Gueronniere, 
from  whom  I  had  brought  it.  '  I  cannot,'  he  said  '  admit  the  right  of  this 
'  Monsieur '  to  introduce  to  me  any  one  he  likes.  In  the  France  he  has 
told  terrific  lies  about  me,  especially  with  regard  to  Polish  affairs.  But  I 
receive  you  merely  because  you  are  a  Dane,  and  although  the  Yicomte ' 
(with  a  Frenchman's  accuracy)  'calls  jouHausen  instead  of  Hansen.  Tour 
name  is  not  unfamiliar  to  me.  I  know  quite  well  that  you  have  been  very 
hard  on  us  Prussians  in  the  French  Press.' — *  That  is  indeed  quite  true,'  I 
replied  ;  '  I  have  done  all  I  could  to  make  your  position  in  France  as  un- 
comfortable as  possible.'  *  Well,'  he  rejoined,  '  that  is  only  to  your  credit. 
But  what  is  the  object  of  your  visit  ?  ' "—- " Les  Coulisses  de  la  Diplomatic," 
par  Jules  Hansen  (Paris,  1830), 


342  FRINGE   BISMARCK 

his  way  back  to  Berlin  at  Paris  again,  where  hie  had 
"much  politics,  an  audience  (of  the  Emperor)  at  St. 
Cloud,  and  dinner  at  Drouyn  de  Lhuys  (Foreign 
Minister)."  That  the  fate  of  the  Duchies  was  seriously 
discussed  at  St.  Cloud  there  can  be  no  doubt ;  and 
Bismarck  returned  to  Berlin  at  the  same  time  (30th 
October)  as  the  Treaty  of  Vienna  was  signed. 

By  the  chief  clause  in  that  Treaty  the  King  of  Den- 
mark, as  before    said,    surrendered    Schleswig-Holstein 
and  Lauenburg  to  the  Sovereigns  of  Prussia 
ner,  the  Giant      and  Austria,  and  bound  himself  to  submit 

Brothers. 

to  the  way  in  which  their  Majesties 
might  think  fit  to  dispose  of  these  three  Duchies. 
As  far  as  Denmark,  therefore,  was  concerned,  the 
Schleswig-Holstein  question  was  past  and  done  with. 
But  for  the  allies  there  yet  remained  the  terribly  diffi- 
cult and  dangerous  problem — what  to  do  with  these 
Duchies,  now  that  at  last  they  had  been  wrested  from 
their  unjust  step-mother  of  a  "  Niobe  Denmark "  ? 
Fasolt  and  Fafner,  the  two  giants  in  the  prologue  to 
Wagner's  great  operatic  trilogy,  were  friendly  enough 
when  building  a  sky-palace,  or  Walhalla,  for  the  King 
of  the  Gods  ;  but  when  it  came  to  the  apportionment  of 
the  reward  which  Wuotan  had  promised  them,  they  fell 
out,  did  these  all  too-grasping  brothers ;  and  Fafner, 
slaying  Fasolt,  made  off  with  the  whole  of  their  pay  in 
the  shape  of  the  Nibelungen- Hoard.  And  was  it  thus 
to  be  with  the  fraternal  conquerors  of  "  Schleswig-Hol 
stein  sea-surrounded "  ?  A  few  weeks  after  returning 
to  Berlin,  Bismarck  observed  to  a  friend  that  a  war 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  343 

between  Prussia  and  Austria  "  might  break  out  in  a 
month  or  two,  perhaps  in  a  year  ;  who  could  tell  ?  "* 
Had,  then,  the  two  Giant  Brothers  so  soon  commenced 
to  quarrel  about  the  division  of  the  spoil  ?  What 
were  their  respective  aims  and  claims  with  regard  to 
it?  Nine  tailors  are  said  to  make  one  man,  but  how 
was  one  Duke  to  be  made  out  of  two  Sovereigns  —  an 
Emperor  and  a  King  ? 

While  the  London  Conference  was  sitting,  Bismarck 
had  declared  to  a  friend  that  "  annexation  (of  the 
Duchies)  is  not  our  foremost  aim,  though  it 


certainly  would  be  the  pleasantest  result."t 
But  that  result  had  been  rendered  all  the  more  inevit- 
able, first  by  the  obstinacy  of  the  Danes,  and  then  by 
the  unwisdom  of  the  Prince  of  Augustenburg  ;  and  a 
variety  of  circumstances  were  gradually  tending  to 
make  Bismarck  exclaim  (within  himself),  "  Beati  possi- 
dentes  !  "  —  "  Blessed  are  they  that  are  in  possession,  for 
they  shall  not  be  cast  out  !  "  Real  and  actual  posses- 
sion like  that  of  the  A  ustro-  Prussian  —  especially  the 
Prussian  —  forces,  and  not  the  mere  appearance  of  a 
territorial  grip  like  that  of  the  Saxons  and  Hanoverians 
in  Holstein.  "  Will  you  be  kind  enough  to  return 
home  now,  gentlemen,"  said  Bismarck  to  the  Saxo- 
Hanoverian  commanders;  "you  have  done  your  duty 
bravely  and  well  ;  you  were  sent  into  Holstein  and 
Lauenburg  to  do  '  execution  '  for  the  Diet  ;  but  now, 

*  "  Les  Coulisses  de  la  Diplomatic,"  p.  41. 

t  Letter  to  an  unnamed  correspondent,  16th   May,   1864,    already 
quoted. 


344  PRINGE  BISMARCK. 

you  know,  all  the  three  Duchies  have  been  ceded  to 
the  allies  who  were  not  the  mandatories  of  the  Diet,  and 
so  are  not  bound  to  render  it  an  account  of  their 
stewardship.  Your  occupation,  like  Othello's,  is  there- 
fore gone,  and  I  must  ask  you  to  withdraw  at  once  — 
gracefully,  if  you  can  ;  grudgingly,  if  you  like." 

Though  somewhat  startled  by  this  peremptory 
summons,  Hanover  wisely  chose  the  former  manner  of 
Saxon  and  retirement  ;  but  Saxony,  whose  policy  was 
guided  by  Count  Eeust  —  a  statesman  who 


had  already  begun  his  long  and  impotent 
career  of  envious  and  intriguing  opposition  to  the  ideas 
of  his  Prussian  colleague  and  countryman*  —  grumbled, 
remonstrated,  refused,  and  even  called  in  her  reserves, 
and  made  many  other  ostentatious  war-preparations. 
But  that  availed  nothing.  "  Go  you  must,  and  shall," 
firmly  repeated  Bismarck  ;  "  even  the  Diet,  who  sent 
you  there,  has  pronounced  against  your  remaining.  "  So 
out,  accordingly,  but  with  a  villainous  bad  grace,  they 
had  to  let  themselves  be  pushed  by  the  allies,  who  now 
provisionally  placed  the  administration  of  all  the  three 
Duchies  in  the  hands  of  a  Civil  Commission,  pending 
the  settlement  of  their  ultimate  proprietorship. 

But,  alas  !  the  two  commissioners-in-chief  had  been 
furnished  with  diametrically  opposite  instruc- 
tions  ;  and  whatever  the  Prussian  —  Baron 


Brothers. 

Zedlitz  —  set  about   to  do,  was   sure  to  be 
thwarted  by  his  Austrian  colleague,  Baron  Halbhuber. 

*  The  Beast  and  the  Bismarck  families  were  neighbours  in  the  Old 
Mark. 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  345 

The  latter  had  received  orders  to  support  the  pretensions 
of  the  Duke  of  Augustenburg  ;  the  former  to  frown  upon 
them.  The  Austrians  encouraged  demonstrations  in 
favour  of  the  Pretender  ;  and  the  Prussians  retorted  by 
arresting  and  expelling  the  agitators.  The  Austrians 
ostentatiously  held  aloof  from  the  celebration  of  the 
anniversary  of  Diippel,  but,  on  the  other  hand,  drank 
toasts  and  made  speeches  on  the  birthday  of  the  Duke 
of  Augustenburg.  The  Prussian  naval  station  on  the 
Baltic  was,  by  royal  command,  transferred  from  Dantzig 
to  Kiel,  and  the  Imperial  Government  sent  round  to  the 
latter  harbour  a  couple  of  war-vessels  by  way  of  asserting 
its  condominate  rights.  Prussia  proposed  the  expulsion 
of  the  Pretender,  the  cause  of  so  much  mischief,  and 
Austria  not  only  answered  with  an  emphatic  "  No  1  " 
but  asked  that  his  claims  should  be  recognised. 

In  making  this  demand,  Austria  was  but  acting  for 
the  population  of  the  Duchies  themselves,  of  which  by 
far  the  greater  portion  desired  to  have  the 
Prince  of  Augustenburg  for  their  ruler.     It      the  Prince  of 

Augustenburg. 

is  true  that  a  small  fraction  of  landed  pro- 
prietors had  prayed  for  annexation  to  Prussia  ;  but,  had 
the  question  been  put  to  a  plebiscite,  there  can  be  no 
doubt  what  the  popular  vote  would  have  been.  Even 
the  King  of  Prussia  himself  was  at  first  strongly  in 
favour  of  the  Pretender.  "  //  croit"  said  Bismarck, 
"  guun  autre  a  droit  aux  ducMs,  et "  (much  as  I  should 
wish  to  do  otherwise),  "je  ne  puis  pas  etre  plus  royaliste 
que  le  Eoi"*  But  circumstances  tended  to  modify  the 
*  "  Coulisses  de  la  Diplomatic,"  p.  35. 


346  PEINOE    BISMARCK. 

King's  belief.  As  for  Bismarck  himself,  he  adopted  the 
convenient  views  of  the  crown-jurists  that  the  Danish 
law  of  succession  (of  1853),  founded  on  the  Treaty  of 
London  (in  1852),  fully  entitled  King  Christian  to  the 
sovereignty  of  the  Duchies,  which  he  had  now  formally 
surrendered  to  the  allies ;  while  the  father  of  the  Pre- 
tender had,  in  1852,  for  a  money  consideration,  formally 
waived  all  his  rights  of  reversion  to  the  conquered 
territory.*  At  the  same  time,  in  consideration  of  the 
clearly  expressed  wish  -of  the  Schleswig-Holsteiners 
themselves,  and  for  other  prudent  reasons,  Bismarck 
was  not  unwilling  to  see  the  Prince-Pretender  invested 
with  the  ducal  sovereignty,  but  only  under  conditions 
which  would  equitably  repay  Prussia  for  the  blood  she 
had  spilt  in  winning  it  for  him,  and  which  would 
guarantee  to  her  and  to  Germany  the  existence  of  a 
strong  bulwark  of  defence,  instead  of  a  weak  and 
capricious  principality  on  her  northern  frontier. 

While  yet  the  war  was  in  progress,  the  Prince- 
Pretender  had  come  to  Berlin  to  urge  his  suit  at  Court, 
and  had  also  been  received  by  Bismarck ;  but  on  the 
latter — with  whom  the  personal  element  in  every  question 
went  for  much,  if  not  for  everything — his  demeanour 
made  a  very  bad  impression.  It  could  not  but  pre- 
possess Bismarck  against  Prince  Frederick  that  he  had 
previously  invoked  the  aid  of  a  foreign  potentate,  of 
Napoleon  ;  and  now,  instead  of  professing  gratitude  for 
the  work  of  liberation  done  by  Prussia,  he  haughtily 
described  her  services  as  gratuitous  and  uncalled  for  by 

*  See  p.  224,  ante. 


THE    "CONFLICT-TIME."  847 

the  Duchies,  whose  interests  would  have  been  much  better 
championed  by  the  Diet.  The  interview  between  King 
William's  Prime  Minister  and  the  Pretender,  which  took 
place  in  the  billiard-room  of  the  former,  and  lasted  far 
into  the  night,  was  dramatic  enough. 

"At  first,"  said  Bismarck  once,  "  I  wanted  from  him  no  more 
than  what  the  minor  Princes  conceded  in  1866.  But  he  would  not 
yield  an  inch  (thank  Heaven,  thought  I  to  myself,  and  thanks  to  the 
wisdom  of  his  legal  advisers).  ...  At  first  I  called  him  '  High- 
ness/ and  was  altogether  very  polite.  But  when  he  began  to  make 
objections  about  Kiel  Harbour,  which  we  wanted,  and  would  listen 
to  none  of  our  military  demands,  I  put  on  a  different  face.  I  now 
titled  him  '  Translucency,'  and  told  him  at  last  quite  coolly  that  we 
could  easily  wring  the  neck  of  the  chicken  we  ourselves  had  hatched,"* 

No  other  course  appearing  practicable,  Bismarck 
sounded  Austria  as  to  the  annexation  of  the  Duchies  to 
Prussia,  and  was  informed  that  the  Emperor  could  only 
consent  to  this  on  his  receiving  some  terri- 

The  Giant 

torial  equivalent,  such,  for  example,  as  the 
county  of  Glatz  in  Silesia.  "What?" 
thought  Bismarck  angrily,  "  Give  you  back  part  of  what 
was  won  for  Prussia  by  the  patriotic  sword  of  Frederick 
the  Great  ?  You  must  be  dreaming  !  "  "  Well,  these 
Are  our  conditions  at  any  rate,  and  if  you  don't  agree  to 
them,  we  beg  you  to  honour  the  claims  of  the  Prince  of 
Augustenburg."  Bismarck  rejoined  that  Prussia  could 
only  do  so  on  conditions  f  which  would  have  made  the 
new  Duke  of  Schleswig-Holstein  little  other  than  a 
mediatised  Prince,  a  mere  feudatory  of  the  Prussian 

*  "  Bismarck  in  the  Franco-German  War."          f  Vide  Malet,  p.  98, 


848  PRINCE   BISMAEGK. 

Crown.  Was  Prussia,  then,  entitled  to  reap  no  benefit 
from  the  blood  she  had  spilt  ?  "  No,  at  least  not  to  the 
extent  demanded,"  replied  Austria,  who  now  again  egged 
on  the  minor  States  to  petition  the  Diet  in  favour  of  the 
Pretender.  And  the  Diet,  too,  which  had  not  ratified 
the  Treaty  of  London,  and  consequently  ignored  the 
alienation  rights  of  the  King  of  Denmark  with  respect 
to  the  Duchies  based  upon  it,  did  pass  a  vote  in  favour 
of  the  Pretender.*  But  was  it  likely  that  Prussia,  who 
had  sent  her  troops  into  the  Duchies  in  defiance  of  the 
Diet,  should  now  comply  with  its  wish  as  to  their 
disposal  ?  Her  real  answer  to  its  decision  was  a  demand 
for  the  expulsion  of  the  Pretender,  to  which  Austria  paid 
no  heed;  and  a  proposal  to  convoke  and  consult  the 
estates  of  the  Duchies  as  to  their  future  fate — which 
fell  to  the  ground  for  want  of  mutual  agreement  as  to 
the  method  of  election.  The  relations  of  the  Giant 
Brothers  in  the  Duchies^  were  beginning  to  be  most 
dangerously  strained.  More  than  once  already  they  had 
all  but  clutched  at  their  swords.  "  It  looks  very  shaky 
with  peace/'  wrote  Bismarck  from  Gastein,  in  August, 
1865,  whither  he  had  gone  with  the  King  to  "  patch  up 
the  rents  in  the  building."  Had  it  not  been  for  the 
King,  who  was  equally  cautious  and  conservative,  his 
Minister  would  have  already  sought  means  to  tear  down 
the  whole  crumbling  edifice. 

*  "  In  giving  his  vote  against  the  proposition,  his  Excellency  (the 
Prussian  Member,  M.  de  Savigny)  said  he  had  the  orders  of  his  Govern- 
ment to  state  that,  considering  the  claims  of  the  hereditary  Prince  of 
Augustenbnrg  as  proven,  Prussia  protested  against  the  pretensions  of  the 
Piet  to  Bja&e  a  binding  decision  on  questions  still  in  dispute," — Malet,  p.  103, 


«  OONFLICT-TIME"  349 

At   Karlsbad,   whither  Bismarck  had   first   accom- 
panied the  King  (in  June),  he  told  the  Due  de  Gramont 
(that    "  brazen-faced    dunderhead,"    as    he    afterwards 
called  him)  that  he  considered  "war  between 
the   allies  not  only   to    be    inevitable   but     rate^effor?^ 

keep  the  peace. 

necessary,"  and  that  it  was  Prussia's  mission 
to  take  the  destinies  of  Germany  into  her  own  hands. 
From  Karlsbad  the  King  proceeded  to  Eatisbon,  where 
was  held  a  full  Cabinet  Council  attended  by  the 
Prussian  Ambassadors  at  Paris  and  Vienna;  and  two 
days  afterwards,  at  Salzburg,  Bismarck  told  the  Ba- 
varian minister,  Von  der  Pfordten,  that  a  deadly  duel 
between  the  allies  was  impending,  and  that  it  behoved 
the  minor  States  to  be  wise  in  time  and  take  the 
proper  side.  "  One  single  encounter,"  he  prophetically 
said,  "  one  decisive  battle,  and  Prussia  will  have  it  in 
her  power  to  dictate  conditions."  From  Salzburg  he 
again  proceeded  with  the  King  to  Gastein  to  exert 
himself  (unwillingly,  we  may  suppose)  with  an  Austrian 
plenipotentiary  in  "  patching  up  the  rents  in  the  build- 
ing (of  peace),"  which  he  well  knew  was  doomed  to 
come  tumbling  down.  But  the  negotiations  at  first 
threatened  to  be  futile,  and  ultimatums  were  already 
thought  of. 

Once  more,  however,  the  chariot  of  war  was 
arrested  in  its  onward  career  just  as  it  was  beginning  to 
move,  and  the  drasf  that  was  hung  upon  its  The  conven- 

_.  tion  of  Gastein 

wheels  this  time  was  the  Convention  of  (August,  ises). 
Gastein  (14th  August).  It  will  sufficiently  convey  the 
contents  of  this  Treaty — which  was  declared  to  be  pro- 


350  PUltfCti  BISMAtiCK 

visional  in  its  nature — to  say  that  it  virtually  centred 
the  sovereignty  of  Schleswig  in  Prussia,  and  of  Holstein 
in  Austria ;  while,  in  consideration  of  the  payment  of 
two  and  a  half  millions  of  Danish  dollars,  the  Emperor 
Francis  Joseph  ceded  to  King  William  all  his  rights  of 
co -proprietorship  in  the  Duchy  of  Lauenburg.*  A  few 
days  after  the  signature  of  this  Treaty,  the  sovereign 
parties  to  it,  accompanied  by  their  respective  Premiers, 
met  and  embraced  at  Ischl ;  and  within  a  month  King 
William  took  formal  possession  of  Lauenburg,  appoint- 
ing as  its  Minister  Herr  von  Bismarck,  whose  bril- 
liant services  he  now  rewarded  (16th  September) 
with  the  title  of  Count — a  title  which,  while  it  nattered 
his  family  pride,  tended  to  arouse  his  superstitious  fears.f 
Seated  on  a  throne  in  the  church  of  Eatzeburg,  with 
the  Crown  Prince  on  his  right  and  Count  Bismarck 
on  his  left,  King  William  ceremoniously  received  the 
oath  of  allegiance  from  his  new  subjects,  who  honestly 
declared  themselves  to  be  satisfied  with  their  new 
political  lot. 

King  William  may  have  looked  upon  the  Convention 

*  " '  I  remember/  said  the  Chief,  in  the  course  of  further  conversation, 

'once    sitting   with    Manteuifel   and '   (name  unintelligible)  'on  the 

stone  before  the  church  at  Beckstein.     The  King  came  past,  and  I  pro- 
posed to  greet  him  as  the  three  witches  did :  "  Hail,  Thane  of  Lauen 
burg  !     All  hail,  Thane  of  Kiel !     All  hail,  Thane  of  Schlesw-ig  !  "     It  was 
at  the  time  I  concluded  the  Treaty  of  Gastein  with  Blome.'  " — Busch. 

f  "  The  Minister  then  remarked,  though  I  forget  what  occasioned  him 
to  do  so,  that  all  the  families  in  Pomerania  which  rose  to  the  rank  of  Count 
died  out.  '  The  country  cannot  tolerate  the  name/  he  added.  '  I  know 
ten  or  twelve  families  with  whom  it  has  been  so.'  He  mentioned  some, 
and  went  on  to  say  :  '  So  I  struggled  hard  against  it  at  first.  At  last  I  had 
to  submit,  but  I  am  not  without  my  apprehensions  even  now/  " — Idem. 


TEE  "CONFLICT-TIME"  351 

of  Gastein  as  a  happy  remedy  against  rupture  with  a 
Sovereign  with  whom,  in  spite  of  all  provocation,  he  was 
most  unwilling  to  break.  Bismarck  cer-  What  Eur9pe 
tainly  regarded  it  as  another  strong  mesh 
in  the  toils  with  which  he  was  seeking  to  encompass 
and  destroy  the'  implacable  rival  of  his  country.  Military 
exigencies  demanded  some  delay,  and  he  had  not  yet 
secured  himself  either  of  France  or  of  Italy.  To  all 
Europe  the  Treaty  of  Gastein  was  a  mystery ;  to  some 
Powers,  such  as  France  and  England,  it  was  an  outrage 
and  a  scandal.  The  Government  of  Napoleon  denounced 
it  to  its  agents  abroad  as  an  act  of  political  "  highway 
robbery  and  attorney  ism  "  (to  express  its  meaning  in  the 
words  of  Carlyle) ;  while  Lord  John  Russell,  with  equal 
vigour,  described  it  as  the  expression  of  mere  brute 
force.  To  emphasise,  moreover,  the  agreement  of  these 
two  Powers  in  the  matter,  their  fleets  met  and  made  a 
futile  demonstration  at  Cherbourg.  And  yet  not  alto- 
gether futile,  for  it  determined  Bismarck  to  make  a 
personal  effort  to  conciliate  Napoleon.  The  King,  it  is 
true,  mindful  of  the  dignity  of  his  crown,  would  not 
hear  of  his  Prime  Minister  going  to  France  until  the 
Cabinet  of  the  Tuileries,  on  the  assurance  of  Prussia 
that  the  Convention  was  of  a  strictly  provisional  nature, 
consented  to  tone  down  the  terms  of  its  Circular  Note ; 
but  after  that  he  started  off  in  search  of  the  Emperor, 
and  found  him  at  Biarritz  (20th  October). 

Much  talked  of  then  (and  not  yet  wholly  divested 
of  the  mystery  which  surrounded  it)  was  the  famous  in- 
terview between  Bismarck  and  Napoleon  at  Biarritz. 


352  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

"  Is  lie  inad  ? "   whispered    the    Emperor  to   Prosper 

Merime'e,  on  whose  arm  he  leaned  as  he  walked  along 

the  beach   with  what  one  of  his   hagiolo- 

Napoieon a?       gists  describes  as  the  "boisterous  German."  * 

Biarritz.  & 

"11  riy  a  que  M.  de  Bismarck  qui  soit  un 
vrai  grand  liomme"  wrote  Merimee  at  this  time  to  his 
Inconnue.^  "  He  has  quite  won  me  ;  as,  indeed,  he  also 
captivated  Napoleon  himself  by  his  frankness  and  the 
charm  of  his  manners."  J  But  to  what  exact  extent 
this  captivation  went  in  a  political  sense,  does  not 
clearly  appear.  According  to  one  writer,  §  Napoleon 
"  did  not  make  any  promises  as  to  the  future  policy  of 
France  towards  Prussia ;  "  while  another  authority  || 
(who  ought  to  have  known  better,  but  probably  did  not) 
has  it  that  "  Bismarck  returned  to  Berlin  with  such 
assurance  of  sympathy  and  benevolent  neutrality  on  the 
part  of  Prance,"  that  he  could  make  arrangements  for 
safely  stripping  the  Ehenish  frontier  of  part  of  its 
garrison.  Napoleon's  weak  point  was '  Italy.  He  had 
all  the  enthusiasm  of  a  dreamer,  and  a  meddler  in  the 
affairs  of  others,  for  the  liberation  of  Yenetia  from  the 
Austrian  yoke ;  and  on  this  chord,  which  he  had 
previously  tuned  at  Florence,  Bismarck  skilfully  and 
persistently  harped.  Perhaps,  even,  he  wickedly 
tempted  Napoleon  with  possibilities  of  compensating 
conquest  in  the  direction  of  Belgium,  and  thus  con- 

*  Blanchard  Jerrold. 

f  "  Lettres  a  une  Iiiconnue,"  vol.  ii.,  p.  32L 

J  "  Coulisses  de  la  Diplomatic,"  p.  54. 

§  Ibid. 

||  Sir  A.  Malet. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  353 

verted  the  strictures  ef  the  moralist  into  the  hopes  of  the 
robber.  But  be  that  as  it  may,  and  notwithstanding 
that  Austria  was  assiduously  suing  for  the  friend- 
ship of  France,  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  Bis- 
marck returned  home  with  fresh  confidence  in  the 
feasibility  of  his  plans ;  and  the  fact  that  French- 
men now  began  to  refer  to  him  as  "  Vhomme  de  Biarrifz  " 
seemed  to  imply  a  regretful  belief  on  their  part  that, 
with  the  tongue  of  a  Ulysses  and  the  master-mind  of 
a  Richelieu,  he  had  somehow  managed  to  make  their 
own  astute  Emperor  a  passive  instrument  in  the  execu- 
tion of  his  far-reaching  schemes. 

But  while  the  stream  of  Bismarck's  foreign  policy 
was  thus  flowing  steadily,    if  secretly,  in  the   desired 
direction,  the  torrent  of  domestic  conflict  threatened  to 
burst  its  banks  and   spread   ruin   around. 
Unpersuaded  even  by  the  eloquence  of  the     conflict  with 

J  the  Chamber ; 

cannon  which  had  thundered  at  Diippel,  i^Sngem°em-s 
commanding  the  submission  of  the  Danes 
and  the  respect  of  Europe,  the  Liberals  in  Parliament 
still  stubbornly  clung  to  their  tactics  of  clamorous  and 
"  impotent  negation."  *  Such  inflexible  and  ferocious 
adhesion  to  abstract  dogmas  of  policy  might  well  have 
been  expected  of  a  Papal  Council,  but  seemed  inexplicable 
in  a  body  of  men  claiming  to  represent  their  country,  and 
to  have  its  interests  only  at  heart.  But,  in  truth,  the 
most  prominent  members  of  that  body  were  men  who — 
however  rich  in  private  virtues,  including  even  that  of 
patriotism — were  the  curse  of  the  Assembly  in  which 

*  Speech  of  Bismarck. 
X 


354  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

they  sat;  men  who,  to  the  pedantry  of  the  scholiast 
almost  mad  with  too  much  learning,  added  claims  to 
infallibility  more  unyielding  than  those  ever  advanced 
by  the  most  presumptuous  occupant  of  St.  Peter's  Chair. 
To  take  only  one  or  two  examples  of  the  class  we  mean. 
Professor  von  Sybel  justly  passed  among  his  students  for 
an  eloquent  and  trustworthy  expounder  of  the  French 
Eevolution;  and  no  one  denied  that  Professor  Gneist  was 
a  perfect  mine  —  deep,  though  dark  and  dismal  —  of  erudi- 
tion in  constitutional  law;  while  every  one  admitted  that 
Dr.  Virchow  was  second  to  none  at  reconstructing  the 
skeleton  of  an  extinct  mammoth,  or  anatomising  a  dead 
cat  ;  but  whenever  any  of  these  scholars  presumed  to  ape 
the  character  of  statesmen,  they  rarely  failed  to  present 
a  humbling  exemplification  of  the  truth  of  the  maxim 
about  the  cobbler  and  his  last.  To  the  erudition  of  an 
Aristotle  these  men  added  the  invective  powers  of  a 
Thersites  ;  but  they  were  often  smitten  down  with  their 
own  weapons,  as  the  bully  of  the  Grecian  camp  was 
reduced  to  silence  by  the  truncheon  of  Ulysses.  "  This 
military  reorganisation  of  yours,"  said  Dr.  Gneist,  "  has 
the  Cain's  mark  of  perjury  on  its  brow."  "  That  ex- 
pression of  yours,"  retorted  General  von  Eoon,  "  bears 
the  stamp  of  arrogance  and  impudence." 

The  Lower  Chamber  was  the  constant  scene  of  most 
unseemly  brawls  ;  but  the  violence  was  chiefly  on  the 
side  of  the  Opposition,  composed,  as  it  was, 
of  party  politicians  to  whom  men  like  Paul 


de  Cassagnac   could   never   have   held  the 
candle.     Bismarck,  however,  never  lost  his  temper  —  as 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  355 

what  strong  man  ever  does  lose  his  temper? — and  thus 
had  a  great  advantage  over  his  foes  who,  though 
enlightened,  lacked  refinement  of  manner.  On  one  or 
two  occasions,  even,  the  heat  of  wordy  strife  had  like 
to  have  led  to  blows.  Dr.  Virchow  once  roundly 
accused  Bismarck  of  un veracity.  "  What  do  you 
mean  to  accomplish,  gentlemen,  with  a  tone  like 
this  ?  "  asked  Bismarck.  "  Do  you  really  wish  us  to 
settle  our  political  quarrels  after  the  manner  of  the 
Horatii  and  the  Curia tii  ?  If  so," — and,  suiting  the 
action  to  the  word,  home  he  went  and  sent  a  challenge 
to  his  slanderer.  But  the  learned  professor  refused  to 
expose  science  to  the  risk  of  prematurely  losing  one  of 
her  high  priests ;  the  challenge,  however,  had  the  effect 
of  making  him  and  his  partisans  somewhat  warier 
henceforth  with  the  wagging  of  their  tongues.* 

*  "  The  political  friends  of  the  professor  counselled  him  to  decline,  and 
he  received  many  addresses  of  approval  from  the  conntry.  This  incident 
caused  a  great  sensation  at  the  time,  but  it  was  nearly  forgotten  by  the 
present  generation  when  it  was  cited,  not  kmg  ago,  in  a  singular  way  in 
court.  A  gentleman  was  on  trial  for  sending  a  challenge — a  species  of 
pleasure  that  the  German  laws  have  long  denied,  except  to  the  military — 
and,  in  mitigation  of  sentence,  the  defendant  re  Tred  to  the  case  of 
Bismarck  versus  Yirchow,  and  observed  that  Bismarck  had  never  been 
prosecuted  for  his  challenge.  The  judge  replied  that  he  was  not  prose- 
cuted because  he  was  protected  by  the  military  uniform  which,  as  an  officer 
in  the  Landwehr,  he  is  accustomed  and  entitled  to  wear." — "  German 
Political  Leaders"  apud  Yirchow,  by  H.  Tuttle. 

"  With  regard  to  the  Virchow  affair,"  wrote  Bismarck  to  a  friend,  who 
had  taken  him  to  book  for  the  incident  of  his  challenge,  "  I  am  past  the 
time  of  life  when  one  takes  advice  from  flesh  and  blood  in  such  things. 
When  I  stake  my  life  for  a  matter,  I  do  so  in  that  faith  which  I  have 
strengthened  by  long  and  severe  struggling,  but  also  in  honest  and  humble 
prayer  to  God ;  a  faith  which  no  word  of  man,  even  that  of  a  friend  in 
Christ  and  a  servant  of  His  Church,  can  Overthrow." — Letter  of  Bismarck 
to  Andre  von  Roman,  2tith  December,  1865. 

x  2 


356  PRINCE  SISMA&CK. 

It  really  seemed,  as  Bismarck  told  Parliament,  as  if 
its  stubborn  hostility  to  the  policy  of  the  Government 
"impotent  "  na(^  P^ace(i  ^  *n  ^ne  position  of  the  false 
mother  in  the  Judgment  of  Solomon — 
fiercely  bent  on  having  its  will,  even  though  the  country 
should  thus  be  ruined."  The  first  session  of  the  Land- 
tag after  the  Danish  war  (January  to  June,  1865)  was 
one  long  scene  of  quarrel,  recrimination  and  combat. 
Again  did  the  Chamber  reject  the  new  military  law, 
which  had  already  borne  such  enticing  fruit ;  it  firmly 
refused  to  cover  the  expenses  which  had  bound  another 
laurel  round  the  brow  of  Prussia,  and  enriched  her  with 
two  fair  provinces ;  nor  would  it  listen  to  the  prayer 
of  the  .  Government  for  ten  million  thalers  to  build  a 
fleet,  now  that  at  last  the  nation  had  acquired  the 
splendid  harbour  of  Kiel  to  shelter  one.  Parliament 
acknowledged  the  necessity  of  creating  a  navy,  but  it 
would  not  give  a  Bismarck  Ministry  money  to  make  it 
with.  To  those  who  thus  wanted  protection  but  would 
not  pay  for  it,  Bismarck  could  only  reply  that  "  existence 
on  the  basis  of  the  Phaiacians  was  doubtless  more  com- 
fortable than  that  of  the  Spartans ;"  but  that,  as  Dlippel 
and  Alsen  had  been  conquered  in  despite  of  them,  so  he 
hoped  Prussia  would  also  yet  get  a  fleet  for  all  their 
"  impotent  negation."  But  it  was  not  to  be  expected 
that  a  Chamber  which  still  showed  all  the  enthusiasm 
of  spectacled  idealists  for  the  independence  of  the 
Duchies — though  it  could  come  to  no  decision  with 
regard  to  their  disposal — should  vote  the  creation  of  a 
Prussian  fleet,  that  implied  the  possession  of  Kiel.  It 


THE  "  CONFLICT- TIME."  357 

was  truly  affecting  to  see  how  the  parliamentary  profes- 
sors .differed  in  their  theory  of  things  from  the  heathen 
philosopher  (quoted  hy  Touchstone),  who  robustly  held 
that  "  grapes  were  made  to  eat,  and  lips  to  open." 

Holding  with  the  heathen  philosopher,  the  King  of 
Prussia,  as  we  have  seen,  had  acquired  the  complete 
proprietorship  of  Lauenburg  by  buying  up  Austria's 
eondominate  rights  over  that  Duchy.  But  in  the 
following  session  (15th  of  January  to  22nd  of  February, 
1866)  the  Chamber  boldly  declared  this  transaction  to 
be  null  and  void,  for  the  reasons  that  the  country  had 
not  been  asked  to  ratify  a  treaty  concluded  by  the 
Crown,  and  also  because,  without  the  assent  of  Parlia- 
ment, the  King  (by  the  Constitution)  "  could  not  at  the 
same  time  be  ruler  of  foreign  realms  "  (Reiche).  In  a 
speech  of  brilliant  force  and  wit,  Bismarck  endeavoured 
to  prove  the  insufficiency  of  the  former  reason  (the 
assent  of  the  Chamber  being  only  necessary  for  "  com- 
mercial or  other  such  treaties  as  imposed  new  burdens 
on  the  State);"*  while  the  attempt  to  argue  Lauenburg 
a  "  foreign  realm  "  he  made  light  of  as  a  mere  "  linguistic 
quibble,"  as,  indeed,  it  was.f  Bismarck  denounced  the 


*  See  Art.  48  of  Pnissian  Constitution  in  Appendix. 

f  "  By  such  linguistic  quibbles  it  might  at  last  be  proved  that  an  old 
man  is  a  child,  and  a  child  an  old  man,  because  the  limits  of  their  respec- 
tive ages  cannot  be  established ;  "  and  he  quoted  from  Shakespeare  to 
prove  the  contrast  between  Duchy  and  Kingdom  (Reiche) : — 

"Nay,  if  thou  be  that  princely  eagle's  bird, 
Show  thy  descent  by  gazing  'gainst  the  sun  : 
For  chair  and  dukedom,  throne  and  kingdom  say  j 
JJither  that  is  thine,  or  else  thou  wert  not  his." 

ffenry  VI.,  Part  III.,  Act  ii.,  Scene  lt 


358  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

conduct  of  the  Chamber  in  this  affair  as  an  audacious 
assault  on  the  constitutional  prerogatives  of  the  Cro.wn ; 
as  he  also  repelled  its  protest  against  the  ruling  of 
the  Supreme  Court,  that  slanderous  attacks  on  the 
Government  did  not  come  within  the  freedom  of 
speech  guaranteed  to  deputies  by  the  Charter,*  as  an 
infringement  of  the  King's  rights. 

The  resolutions  of  the  Chamber  on  the  Lauenburg 
and  liberty-of-speech  affairs  were  returned  to  it  by 
Bismarck,  with  a  severe  reprimand  for  having  so  far 
forgotten  itself;  and  the  Chamber  very  nearly  went  out 
of  its  senses  with  wrath  at  the  affront  thus  put  upon  it. 
But  Bismarck  cared  nothing  for  its  ravings  or  its 
reasonings,  and,  before  the  deputies  had  time  to  come 
to  a  calmer  state  of  mind,  they  were  sent  home  like 
fractious  schoolboys.  Shortly  afterwards  the  Chamber 
was  again  dissolved.  Two  days  previous  to  this 
an  incident  occurred  which  showed  Bismarck  to  what 
extent  the  bitter  hatred  and  hostility,  of  which  he  had 
become  the  constant  butt  in  the  Chamber,  had  also 
possessed  the  heart  of  the  nation. 

About  five  o'clock  on  the  afternoon  of  the  7th  of 

May,  1866,  Bismarck  was  returning  to  his  residence  in 

the  Wilhelm  Strasse  from  the  Palace,  where  he  had  been 

closeted  with  the  King.     He  had  reached  a 

shota? by  Fer-     point  in  the  central  avenue  of  the  Linden 

nearly    opposite   the    Eussian    embassy — a 

spot  afterwards  to  derive  additional  notoriety  from  the 

crime  of  Hodel — when  he  was  startled  by  two  shots 

*  gee  Art.  86  of  Prussian  Constitution  in 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  859 

close  behind  him,  and  turning  round  he  beheld  a  young 
man — not   long   apparently   out   of    his   teens — coolly 
aiming  at  him  with  a  six-chambered  revolver.     To  grasp 
the  wrist  of  the  assassin  with  one  hand  and  his  throat 
with  the  other  was,  with  his  intended  victim,  the  work 
of  a  moment ;  but  the  ruffian,    wrestling  desperately, 
managed  to  fire  off  three  of  his  other  bullets — two  of 
which  actually  grazed  the  Minister's  breast  and  shoulder. 
A  feeling  of  momentary  weakness  overcame  him,   but 
quickly  recovering  his  presence  of  mind,  and  collecting 
his  vast  strength,  he   closed  with  his   wou'd-be   mur- 
derer and  held  him  fast  as  in  a  vice.     It  chanced  that 
at   this  moment  a  battalion  of  the   Guards,  with  the 
band  playing  the  national  air,  was  marching  down  the 
Linden ;  and,  handing  over  the  assassin  to  the  care  of 
the    soldiers  who  led  him  off   to  gaol,  Bismarck  con- 
tinued his  way  home.     He  afterwards  related  that  the 
incident  had  been  complicated  by  the  passers-by  at  first 
taking  him  for  the  murderer,  as,  indeed,  it  was  natural 
for  them,  in  the  confusion  of  the  moment,  to  infer  that 
the  criminal  was  the  big,  aggressive -looking  man  with  a 
smoking  revolver  in  his  hand — for  he  had  wrenched  it 
from  his    assailant — and   not   the  smooth-faced  youth 
struggling  in  his  iron  grasp.     Arrived  home,  Bismarck 
sat  down  and  wrote  a  brief  account  of  the  incident  to 
the  King,  and  then,  entering  the  drawing-room,  greeted 
the  several  guests  assembled  for  dinner  as  if  nothing  had 
happened.     "  They  have  shot  at  me,  my  child,"  he  at 
last  whispered  to  his  wife ;  "  but  don't  fear,  there  is  no 
harm  done.   Let  us  now  go  in  to  dinner,"   The  Minister 


360  FRINGE   BISMARCK 

had  been  saved  only  by  a  miracle,  as  the  family  doctor 
declared,  and  great  was  the  joy  of  his  friends.  Pre- 
sently the  King  came  in  to  offer  his  congratulations,  and 
his  example  was  soon  followed  by  all  the  great  ones  of 
the  capital.*  A  serenading  multitude  in  the  street,  and 
an  address  of  thanks  from  Bismarck's  balcony  closed 
the  exciting  day — a  day,  alas  !  that  only  opened  the 
era  of  attempts  at  political  murder  in  Berlin. f 

The  inaugurator  of  this  era,  who  committed  suicide 
the  same  night  in  his  cell,  proved  to  be  a  young  man 
of  22,  called  Ferdinand  Cohen — the  stepson  of  Karl 
Blind,  a  democratic  ^fugitive  from  Baden  living  in 
London,  whose  name  he  had  likewise  adopted.  A  youth 
of  good  education,  he  had  in  South  Germany  studied 
agriculture  both  in  theory  and  practice,  but  the  de- 

*  Among  the  numerous  congratulations  which  poured  in  upon  Bismarck 
after  this  "  attentat,"  was  one  from  the  Marquis  Wielpolski  who,  in  1801, 
had  held  a  ministerial  portfolio  at  Warsaw,  and  been  himself  the  object  of 
a  similar  attack.  "  Despite  my  business,"  replied  Bismarck,  "  which 
leaves  me  not  a  moment's  rest  day  or  night,  I  cannot  refrain  from  per- 
sonally thanking  you  for  the  congratulation  and  the  good  wishes  with 
which  you  were  kind  enough  to  honour  me.  You  yourself  know  from 
experience  what  sort  of  a  life  I  have ;  its  dangers,  its  ingratitudes,  its  pri- 
vations, insufficiency  of  time  and  strength — and  amidst  all  that  the  only 
consolation  one  has  is  the  doing  of  one's  duty  and  living  up  to  the  vocation 
which  God  has  given  us.  ...  Think  not  that  discouragement  makes  me 
speak  thus  ;  for  I  believe  in  victory  without  knowing  whether  I  shall  live 
to  see  it ;  but  I  am  often  overcome  with  a  feeling  of  weariness." 

f  The  marvellous  escape  of  the  Minister-President  naturally  formed 
the  topic  of  excited  conversation  at  table,  and  after  dinner  in  the  drawing- 
room,  .where  the  Countess — so  it  was  trustworthily  told  us — expressed  her 
opinion  of  the  would-be  assassin  by  energetically  avowing  that  if  "  she  were 
in  Heaven,  and  saw  the  villain  standing  on  the  top  of  a  ladder  leading  down 
to  Hell,  she  would  have  no  hesitation  in  giving  him  a  push."  "Hush,  my 
dear,"  whispered  her  husband,  tapping  her  gently  on  the  shoulder  from 
;  "you  would  not  be  in  Heaven  yourself  with  such  thoughts  as  these  J " 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  361 

votion  to  this  sober  pursuit  had  not  prevented  his  mind 
from  becoming  a  seed-field  for  those  delirious,  yet  con- 
sistent, idealisms  with  which  the  heads  of  German 
students  are  so  often  dangerously  ablaze.  He  had  been 
an  eager  listener  to  the  rant  of  republicans  and  the 
ravings  of  the  doctrinaires ;  and,  like  another  Balthazar 
Gerard,  he  had  journeyed  to  Berlin  with  the  set  resolve 
to  rid  the  nation  of  a  man  who  was  universally  de- 
nounced as  the  oppressor  of  Prussian  liberties,  and  the 
diabolic  disturber  of  German  peace.* 

But,    while    the    parliamentary    conflict    was    still 
raging,  how  had  the  latter  charge  meanwhile  been  gain- 
ing ground  in  the  public  mind  ?    Prussian     The  a^aea 
diplomacy   is    secrecy  itself;    but   still   the 
nation   instinctively   felt   that    mischief   was   brewing, 


*  Referring  to  this  subject  in  the  Reichstag  (9th  May,  1884),  Bismarck 
said  of  his  would-be  assassin,  that  "  his  dead  body  became  the  object  of  a 
cult ;  that  ladies  of  considerable  name,  whose  husbands  enjoyed  a  certain 
reputation  in  the  scientific  world,  crowned  it  with  laurels  and  flowers  ;  and 
that  this  was  tolerated  by  the  police — the  mass  of  the  ordinary  officials, 
perhaps  even  some  of  the  higher  ones,  being  rather  on  his  side." — With  a 
view  to  correcting  certain  erroneous  inferences  from  the  Chancellor's 
statement,  Herr  Karl  Blind  wrote  to  The  Times  (of  29th  May,  1884)  as 
follows :  "  The  nobility  of  his  character  and  the  patriotic  nature  of  the 
motives  which  carried  him  away  to  the  deed  were  universally  acknowledged 
at  the  time,  even  by  political  adversaries.  His  death  was  made  the  theme 
of  a  eulogistic  poem  by  Marie  Kurz,  the  wife  of  Hermann  Kurz.  His 
portrait,  crowned  with  oak  leaves),  was  worn  by  many  militiamen  in  the 
south  on  their  helmets  when  the/  were  called  out  for  the  war.  With 
'  Nihilist '  ideas  he  had  nothing  whateTer  to  do.  His  object  was  to  prevent 
what  the  Imperial  Chancellor,  in  recent  years,  himself  has  twice  desig- 
nated as  a  'war  between  brethren'  (Bruderkrieg). — I  hold  a  number  of 
letters  of  warmest  sympathy,  written  in  the  days  of  deepest  grief  and 
sorrow,  to  my  wife  and  myself,  by  men  of  political  standing  in  Germany, 
of  the  moderate  National  Liberal  as  well  as  of  the  Progressist  and  Demo- 
cratic parties." 


362  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

and  that  the  Convention  of  Gastein  was  the  chief 
ingredient  in  the  evil  broth.  No  sooner  had  Bismarck 
signed  this  document,  which  was  designed  to  "  patch  up 
rents  in  the  edifice  of  peace,"  than  he  began  to  sneer  at 
it.  "  Do  you  mean  to  break  the  Convention  of  Gastein," 
bluntly  at  last  demanded  Count  Karolyi  of  the  Prussian 
Minister-President.  "  No,"  replied  the  latter,  with 
equal  directness ;  "  but  even  if  I  did,  do  you  suppose 
I  should  "  (be  such  a  fool  as  to)  "  tell  you  ?  "  This  was 
in  March  (1866),  barely  six  months  after  the  conclusion 
of  the  agreement  which  provisionally  assigned  Holstein 
to  Austria,  and  Schleswig  to  Prussia  (pending  the  final 
determination  of  their  fate) ;  and,  in  the  interval,  much 
had  occurred  to  show  the  folly  and  the  danger  of  the 
arrangement.  Marshal  Gablenz  was  appointed  governor 
of  the  Austrian  province,  while  General  Manteuffel,  for 
Prussia,  kept  an  iron  grip  of  her  share  of  the  spoil ; 
and,  in  the  actions  of  these  two  dictators,  the  adverse 
views  and  aims  of  their  respective  Governments  soon 
became  clearly  reflected.  Mindful  of  the  fact  that  the 
parties  to  the  Convention  of  Gastein  had  reserved  the 
question  of  ducal  sovereignty  for  future  settlement, 
Manteuffel  acted,  or  claimed  to  act,  in  consonance  with 
the  understanding  that,  while  each  ally  administered 
one  province,  they  still  had  common  rights  over  both. 
When,  therefore,  a  great  popular  ovation  was  accepted 
by  the  Prince -Pretender  at  Eckernforde  (in  Schleswig), 
he  was  sharply  requested  by  the  Prussian  governor  to 
avoid  such  conduct  in  the  future  on  pain  of  certain 
arrest.  On  the  other  hand,  in  Holstein,  where  (at  Kiel) 


THE    "CONFLICT-TIME."  363 

the  Pretender  kept  a  sort  of  Court,  his  aspirations  were 
openly,  and  even  ostentatiously,  favoured  by  the  Austrian 
governor. 

It  is  not  within  the  scope  of  our  narrative  to  inquire 
into  the  succession  claims  of  the  Prince  of  Augusten- 
burg.  These  claims  were  pronounced  in- 

Bad  outlook 
valid  by  the  crown-lawyers  at  Berlin  ;  and 


though  the  foes  of  Prussia  naturally  sneered 
at  the  judgment  of  these  authorities  on  such  a  subject, 
impartial  minds  could  not  deny  that  this  decision  was 
supported  by  very  sound  and  solid  reasoning.  While 
thus  the  right  of  a  conqueror  seemed  to  be  fortified  by 
the  authority  of  law,  it  was  natural  that  Prussia  should 
look  with  anything  but  indulgence  on  the  growing  agi- 
tation in  the  Duchies  in  favour  of  the  Pretender.  As 
a  slight  set-oif,  it  is  true,  against  that  agitation,  about 
a  score  of  Schleswig-Holstein  noblemen  had  petitioned 
Bismarck  for  annexation  to  Prussia  ;  but  the  great  bulk 
of  the  population  still  demanded  the  right  of  deciding 
their  own  destiny,  and  it  was  not  doubtful  how  they 
would  decide.  Were  they  not  the  best  judges  of  their 
own  happiness  ?  "  No  doubt,"  replied  Bismarck  ;  "  but, 
for  Germany  and  me,  the  greatest  happiness  of  the 
greatest  number  is  the  paramount  consideration."  The 
Austrians  encouraged  the  Schleswig-Holsteiners  to 
clamour  for  a  representative  meeting  of  their  estates  ; 
and  Marshal  Gablenz  sat  with  folded  hands  while  the 
Holstein  Press  indulged  in  boundless  abuse  of  Prussia, 
while  the  political  societies  openly  carried  on  their 
propaganda  for  the  Pretender,  and  while  demagogic 


364  PRINCE   BISMARCE. 

leaders  from  South  Germany  stumped  the  province  and 
stirred  up  the  people  to  assert  their  sovereign  rights. 

But  at  last  the  cup  of  Prussian  impatience  became 
full  to  overflowing  when  (January,  1866)  the  Austrian 
The  quarrel  Government  specially  sanctioned,  at  Altona, 
the  holding  of  a  mass  meeting,  which  de- 
manded the  convocation  of  the  estates  and  cheered 
"the  lawful  and  beloved  Prince  Frederick/'  Within  a 
week  after  this  event  Bismarck  had  sent  to  Vienna 
two  long  and  emphatic  despatches  in  which  he  speci- 
fied his  grievances ;  accused  Austria  of  encouraging 
in  the  Duchies  that  "  spirit  of  revolution  "  which,  as  a 
common  danger,  she  had  agreed  with  Prussia  to 
combat;*  charged  her  with  pursuing  "an  aggressive 
policy  in  Holstein,"  and  declared  it  to  be  "  an  impera- 
tive necessity  that  clearness  should  be  brought  into 
their  mutual  relations."  To  these  remonstrances  Count 
Mensdorff  returned  so  evasive  and  ungracious  a  reply, 
that  soon  afterwards  (28th  February)  there  was  held  at 
Berlin  a  Cabinet  Council  which  the  governor  of  Schles- 
wig  (Manteuffel),  the  Chief  of  the  General  Staff  (Moltke), 
and  the  Prussian  Ambassador  in  Paris  (Count  Goltz) 
were  commanded  to  attend. 

To  this,  at  last,  it  had  come !  The  minute-hand  of 
time  was  fast  approaching  the  hbur  which  Bismarck  was 

*  In  the  previous  October,  Austria  had  supported  the  action  of  Prussia 
when  Bismarck  threatened  the  Senate  of  the  Free  City  of  Frankfort  for 
having  permitted  a  large  number  of  deputies,  from  various  German 
Assemblies,  to  meet  and  denounce  the  Convention  of  Gastein,  and 
champion  the  aspirations  of  the  Schleswig-Holsteiners ;  and  this  was 
the  last  step  but  one  which  the  two  allied  Powers  took  in  common  in  the 
Piet, 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  865 

impatiently  awaiting;  and  meanwhile  lie  informed 
Count  Karolyi  that,  "  convinced  of  the  impossibility  of 
any  longer  acting  with  Austria,  Prussia  resumed  her 
liberty  of  action  and  would  only  consult  her  own 
interests."  These  interests  demanded  that  her  hold 
over  the  Duchies  should  not  be  loosened  by  her  ally  and 
rival,  and,  moreover,  it  concerned  her  honour  not  to 
recede  from  the  path  on  which  she  had  already  so  far 
advanced.  The  sovereignty  of  the  Duchies  was  still, 
it  is  true,  conjointly  vested  in  the  two  Powers ;  but 
Austria  had  turned  a  deaf  ear  to  the  overtures  of  Prussia 
for  acquiring  Schles wig- Hoist ein  as  she  had  already 
acquired  Lauenburg,  or  by  some  other  equitable  arrange- 
ment ;  there  was  no  possible  chance  of  their  agreeing  as 
to  the  ultimate  disposal  of  the  conquered  provinces ;  and 
their  conjoint  dominion  had  already  become  intolerable 
both  to  the  rulers  and  the  ruled.  There  had  thus  arisen 
a  problem  which  clearly  could  only  be  solved  by  the 
sword.  "What  was  to  be  done  ?  At  the  Cabinet  Council 
above  referred  to,  it  was  virtually  resolved  to  expel 
Austria  from  a  position  which  she  seemed  resolutely 
bent  on  using  to  the  detriment  of  Prussia  and  the 
German  cause.  But  how  was  this  to  be  effected  with  a 
still  greater  semblance  of  Austrian  wrong  and  Prussian 
right? 

The  Cabinet  meeting  at  Berlin,  attended  by  Moltke, 
was    speedily    answered    by   a  "  Marshal's 

J  J  "  The  clink  of 

Council "  at  Vienna  (10th  March),  at  which     £io3?ge3vete 
General  Benedek  assisted ;  and  soon  there- 
after masses  of  troops  began  to  be  secretly  pushed  up  from 


366  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Hungary,  and  other  outlying  parts  of  the  Empire,  toward 
Bohemia  and  Moravia.  "  What  is  the  meaning  of  all 
these  warlike  preparations  on  our  frontier  ?  "  demanded 
Berlin.  "  Pooh/'  replied  Vienna,  "  precautions  merely 
against  a  repetition  of  these  troublesome  anti-Jewish 
riots  in  that  quarter."  But  Berlin  knew  better,  and 
soon,  too,  throughout  all  Prussia  nought  was  heard  but 
the  ominous  sound  of  the  "  armourers  accomplishing 
the  knights/'  and  of  the  "  clink  of  hammers  closing 
rivets  up."  The  development  of  the  great  German 
drama  had  now  reached  that  point  where  the  final  sword- 
combat  between  the  two  leading  characters  in  an  his- 
torical tragedy  is  preceded  by  "  alarms  and  excursions/' 
and  by.  mutual  reproaches  deepening  into  the  bitter 
recriminations  of  deadly  hate. 

The  first  of  these  recriminations  was  contained  in  a 
despatch  of  Count  MensdorfF  to  the  Federal  Governments 
Questions  and  (16th  March),  in  which  he  proposed  to  sub- 
mit the  Schleswig-Holstein  question  to  the 
decision  of  the  Diet,  and  called  upon  them  to  mobilise 
their  forces  on  behalf  of  threatened  Austria.  Bismarck 
soon  got  wind  of  this  proceeding,  and  on  his  part  (24th 
March)  inquired  of  the  same  Governments  to  what 
extent  Prussia  could  count  on  their  assistance  in  the 
event  of  her  coming  to  blows  with  Austria,  at  the  same 
time  dwelling  on  the  pressing  need  of  Federal  reform. 
"  I  hope  we  have  reformed  that  indifferently  with  us,  sir," 
exclaimed  the  players  in  chorus.  "  Oh,  reform  it  alto- 
gether," returned  Hamlet-Bismarck,  with  an  impatient 
wave  of  the  hand,  "  if  you  would  have  Germany  escape 


"CONFLICT-TIME*  367 

the  fate  of  Poland.  Ho  wean  you  adjudicate  on  us  and 
our  quarrels,  when  you  are  in  such  a  hopelessly^  chaotic 
and  quarrelsome  state  yourselves  ?  Summon  a  German 
Parliament,  based  on  direct  and  universal  suffrage,  to 
aid  you  with  your  deliberations.  When  you  have  fixed 
the  day  of  its  meeting,  we  shall  then  tell  you  precisely 
what  our  reform  schemes  are,  but  not  till  then ;  and  if 
you  decline  this  condition  precedent  of  ours — a  fig  for 
you  and  all  your  tall  talk  about  national  development/'* 

On  the  very  day  before  Bismarck  spoke  thus  to  the 
Federal  Governments  (27th  April),  Austria  inquired  of 
Prussia  whether  she  would  agree  with  her  to  submit  to 
the  verdict  of  the  Diet  as  to  the  disposal  of  Holstein, 
and  Bismarck  answered  with  an  emphatic  "  No  ! "  The 
Diet  was  not  a  party  either  to  the  Treaty  of  Vienna  or 
the  Convention  of  Grastein,  and  therefore  he  could  not, 
and  would  not'  acknowledge  its  competence.  The  con- 
tention of  Bismarck  came  to  this,  that,  in  the  matter  of 
the  Duchies,  Prussia  could  neither  submit  to  any  court 
of  law  nor  bench  of  arbitration  whatsoever;  and  that 
if  she  could  not  come  to  a  peaceful  agreement  on  the 
subject  with  Austria  alone,  then — what  then  ? 

Such  being  the  disposition  of  Prussia,  it  was  no 
wonder  that  Austria  began  to  arm  to  the  teeth;  and 
doubtless  Bismarck  rejoiced  to  think  that  violent  scene 
the  semblance  of  additional  righteousness  between 

o  tVtrt  riioY\4 


the  Giant 
Brothers. 


would  be  lent    his  cause  by  the    fact    of 

Austria  having  been  thus  induced  to  commit  the  grave 

*  Strictly  in  accordance  with  the  terms  of  Bismarck's  Despatches  of 
24th  March  and  27th  April,  given  by  Hahn. 


368  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

mistake  of  first  buckling  on  her  armour.  While  diplo- 
matic Notes  were  passing  between  Vienna  and  Berlin, 
Austrian  troops  had  been  pouring  up  towards  the 
Prussian  frontier ;  till  at  last,  as  a  counter-precaution, 
King  William  was  prevailed  upon  to  issue  orders  for 
the  partial  mobilisation  of  his  army  in  the  threatened 
quarter.  "  Do  you  bite  your  thumb  at  us,  sir  ?  "  de- 
manded Vienna  of  Berlin.  "  No,  sir,"  replied  Berlin 
to  Vienna,  "  I  do  not  bite  my  thumb  at  you,  sir,  but  I 
bite  my  thumb,  sir."*  In  this  case  it  was  very  hard 
for  Europe  to  say  which  was  the  wolf,  and  which  the 
lamb — so  hard  did  both  protest  their  innocence.  But 
Austria  was  the  first  to  complain,  as  she  had  been  the 
first  to  arm,  and  there  ensued  an  equally  able  and  amus- 
ing correspondence  on  the  subject  of  their  respective 
armaments,  f 

"  Nothing  is  further  from  the  intentions  of  the  Emperor,"  wrote 
Count  Karolyi  to  Count  Bismarck,  "than  to  attack  Prussia." 

"  Nothing  is  further  from  the  intentions  of  the  King,"  replied 
Count  Bismarck  to  Count  Karolyi,  "  than  to  wage  an  aggressive  war 
against  Austria.  "J 

Austria :  "  Why,  then,  these  warlike  acts  of  yours  1 " 

Prussia :  "  Why  this  secret  massing  of  troops  by  you  1 " 

Austria :  "  Tut,  you  exaggerate  all  that" 

Prussia :  "  Nay,  it  is  you  who  misrepresent  and  conceal  the 
facts." 

Austria  (who  thought  to  catch  her  rival  in  a  trap)  :  "  Oh,  come, 

*  "Borneo  and  Juliet,"  Act  i.,  Scene  1. 

t  Each  of  the  above  utterances,  put  into  the  mouths  of  the  two  Powers, 
accurately  expresses  the  essence  of  so  many  despatches  exchanged  between 
them  on  the  subject  of  their  respective  armaments,  from  31st  March  to  4th 
May,  1866.  Vide  Hahn. 

£  Ipsissima  verba,  from  despatches  of  31st  March  and  6th  April,  given 
by  Hahn. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  369 

a  pest  on  all  this  aimless  quibbling.  Here  is  a  definite  proposal. 
Will  you  disarm,  if  we  do  1 " 

Prussia  (much  too  wary  to  fall  into  the  trap)  :  "  Certainly,  with 
the  greatest  pleasure.  Only  begin  the  withdrawal  of  your  forces 
threatening  our  frontier,  and  we  shall  at  once  demobilise  in  pro- 
portion.'* 

Austria  (after  a  stage  "  aside"  in  sibilant,  savage  tones)  :  "  Stay, 
we  ought  to  have  said  that,  though  ready  to  recall  our  troops  from 
Bohemia,  we  must  concentrate  them  against  Italy,  who  now  seems 
bent  upon  assailing  us  ;  but  this  trifling  detail  need  not  affect  your 
conditional  promise  to  demobilise." 

Prussia:  "Oho,  is  that  your  game?  You  only  now  speak  of 
disarming  in  Bohemia,  but  what  of  Moravia  and  Galicia?  Italy, 
believe  us  (for  we  know),  is  not  meditating  an  '  unprovoked '  attack 
upon  you ;  and  if  she  is  arming,  it  is  only  because  you  have  set  the 
example.  You  have  shifted  your  ground,  you  are  equivocating,  and 
that  we  cannot  endure.  Therefore,  to  be  plain  with  you,  reduce 
your  whole  army  at  once  to  the  peace-footing,  and  we  shall  do  the 
same,  otherwise  our  agreement  must  fall  to  the  ground." 

Austria  (with  a  look  of  mingled  rage,  duplicity,  and  distrust)  : 
"  Let  it  fall,  then,  and  God  defend  the  right ! " 

Italy  arming  too  ?  Yes,  in  hot  and  secret  haste, 
and  Austria  could  not  possibly  be  blind  to  the  reason 
why.  With  the  haughty  contempt  of  the  despot  who 
overrates  his  power,  she  had  rejected  the  itaiyand 
overtures  of  the  Cabinet  of  Florence  for  the 
cession  of  Yenetia,  and  thus  had  driven  Italy  into  the 
extended  arms  of  Prussia.  Between  the  dynasties  of 
these  two  States,  both  engaged  in  the  work  of  national 
unification,  there  could  not  but  exist  a  deep  natural 
sympathy  ;  and  this  feeling  was  intensified  by  common 
hatred  of  the  Power  which  stood  between  them  and 
their  aims.  Not  only  to  secure  the  neutrality  of 
Prussia's  non- German  neighbours,  but  also  to  enlist 
Y 


370  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

Italy  on  her  side  in  the  coming  struggle,  was  now  Bis- 
marck's great  object ;  and  he  achieved  it  with  consum- 
mate skill. 

Bismarck  had  nothing  whatever  in  him  of  the  Exeter 
Hall  type  of  statesman.  Abstractly,  he  cared  no  more 
about  the  emancipation  of  the  Venetians  from  the  Aus- 
trian yoke  than  he  concerned  himself  about  the  fate  of 
the  exiles  in  Siberia,  or  of  the  slaves  in,  the  Soudan ;  but 
it  suited  his  patriotic  purpose  to  persuade  the  Italians 
that  their  northern  brothers  should  no  longer  remain 
under  the  bondage  of  Austria,  as  it  had  suited  his 
purpose  a  few  years  before  to  persuade  the  Czar  that  he 
must  on  no  account  relax  his  despotic  grip  of  the 
denationalised  Poles.  He  wooed  Italy  with  a  well- 
feigned  love ;  nor  did  he  fail  to  prepare  her  heart  for 
the  final  avowal  of  his  affection  by  simulating  those  acts 
of  generosity  which  spring  from  genuine  regard.  In 
the  teeth  of  much  opposition  he  had,  in  1865,  induced 
the  Zollverein  to  conclude  a  commercial  treaty  with 
Italy,  favourable  to  the  latter ;  and  he  was  careful  to 
acquaint  the  Cabinet  of  Florence  with  the  progress  of 
his  quarrel  with  Austria.  So  well,  indeed,  did  he  play 
his  game  of  courtship,  that  the  proposal  of  alliance  came, 
not  from  the  wooer,  but  the  wooed.  At  the  beginning 
of  April,  General  Grovone  arrived  in  Berlin  from  Flo- 
rence with  full  powers  to  come  to  terms  with  Prussia, 
and  on  the  8th  of  that  month  he  signed  with  Bismarck 
a  secret  Treaty  of  Offensive  and  Defensive  Alliance,  by 
which  Italy  undertook  to  draw  the  sword  for  Prussia 
should  she  have  to  go  to  war  with  Austria  within  three 


THE   "CONFLIOT-TIME."  371 

months ;  while  each  agreed  neither  to  conclude  peace 
nor  an  armistice  without  the  assent  of  the  other,  and 
it  was  well  understood  what  the  territorial  conditions  of 
peace  would  have  to  be. 

Austria  suspected  the  existence  of  this  secret  Treaty ; 
France  knew  of  it.*  France  !  How  can  we  describe  the 
dark,  shifting,  and  tortuous  policy  pursued  by  the  Em- 
peror Napoleon  during  all  this  momentous  France  and 
time — a  policy  which  was  equally  that  of  a 
presumptuous  busy-body,  an  unscrupulous  haggler,  and 
a  midnight  thief?  The  jealousy  and  the  malice  of 
the  French  nation  itself  had  been  aroused  by  the  success 
of  the  Prussian  arms  against  Denmark ;  a  Protestant 
Power  was  bidding  fair  to  rally  all  Germany  round  her 
and  contest  the  palm  of  continental  supremacy  with  la 
grande  nation;  and  that  the  grande  nation  could  by  no 
possibility  endure,  or  even  think  of.  Evidence  enough 
on  this  head  was  furnished  by  a  debate  in  the  Corps 
Legislatif,f  when  M.  Thiers  delivered  a  speech  of  truly 
incredible  arrogance  against  the  designs  and  ambition 
of  Prussia,  producing  a  perfect  storm  of  applause — a 
storm  of  that  kind  which  is  the  proverbial  seed  of  the 
future  whirlwind.  The  Emperor  himself,  while  equally 
jealous  of  the  rise  of  Prussia  and  of  the  statesman  who 
now  controlled  her  destinies,  was  much  less  effusive  with 
his  hatred.  Nay,  he  even  feigned  to  be  moved  with 
love  towards  the  Power  whose  expansion  it  was  his 

*  Si  on  voulait  uniquement  ajouter  quelques  clauses  supplementaires 
ail  traite  que  nous  connaissons  .  .  .  ." — Ma  Mission  en  Prusse,  par 
Le  Comte  Benedetti,  p.  121. 

t  May  3rd,  1866. 
Y   2 


372  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

secret  aim  to  limit.  Bismarck  lias  himself  declared 
tliat  "  the  ill-humour  exhibited  towards  us  (by  Napo- 
leon) on  account  of  the  Treaty  of  Gastein,  arose  from 
the  apprehension  that  a  consolidation  of  the  alliance 
between  Prussia  and  Austria  would  deprive  the  Paris 
Cabinet  of  the  fruits  it  hoped  to  derive  from  the  policy 
it  had  adopted."* 

What  was  that  policy  ?  According  to  the  Emperor 
himself,  it  aimed  at  the  "  preservation  of  the  European 
Napoieon'8  equilibrium,  and  the  maintenance  of  the 
work  which  we  have  helped  to  raise  in 
Italy. "f — "  Italy  shall  be  free  from  the  Alps  to  the 
Adriatic !  "  And  how  did  the  man  of  the  Tuileries 
propose  to  preserve  the  balance  of  power  ?  In  simple 
language,  by  setting  Prussia  and  Austria  by  the  ears, 
and  by  reaping  himself  the  profits  of  their  quarrel. 
France,  he  thought  to  himself,  cannot  have  too  much 
power ;  but  her  neighbours  can,  and  they  shall  not  have 
it.  Besides,  was  it  not  necessary  for  the  criminal  who 
committed  the  coup  d'etat  to  re-ingratiate  himself  with 
indignant  Europe  by  figuring  as  the  humane  champion 
of  oppressed  nationalities,  and  to  fortify  his  hold  on  the 
hearts  of  his  own  countrymen  by  gratifying  their  lust 
of  gloire  and  their  love  of  aggrandisement  ?  And  how 
could  their  lust  of  gloire,  be  better  pandered  to  than  by 
their  Imperial  chief  posing  as  the  arbiter  of  the  Conti- 
nent ;  how  their  love  of  aggrandisement  be  better 

*  Bismarck's  Circular  Despatch  of  July  29th,  1870,  on  various  French 
.  overtures  and  private  treaties. 

f  Memorandum  by  the  Emperor  to  M.  Drouyn  de  Lhuys,  of  June  llth, 
1866,  given  by  Mr.  Jerrold,  iv.,  p.  322. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  373 

indulged  than  by  his  presenting  them  with  the  left  bank 
of  the  Rhine  ?  This  he  coveted  with  a  deep  and  con- 
suming desire,  and  cast  about  to  possess  it.  Could  he 
but  help  Prussia — thus  he  calculated — to  accomplish 
her  ends,  he  would  demand  the  cession  of  the  Ehine  as 
the  price  of  his  aid.  Should  Prussia,  refusing  his  con- 
ditional aid,  be  beaten  by  Austria — and  he  sincerely 
hoped  and  believed  she  would — then  he  might  claim  the 
same  territory  as  the  equivalent  of  his  intervention  in 
favour  of  the  defeated.  It  is  true  that  when  the  two 
Giant  Brothers  began  to  feel  for  their  swords  and  shake 
their  gauntleted  fists  at  one  another,  Napoleon,  like  an- 
other lago  feigning  horror  at  the  brawl  between  Cassio 
and  Eoderigo,  made  a  show  of  proposing  that  they  should 
submit  their  quarrel  to  a  European  Congress  at  Paris 
—a  proposal  which,  though  accepted  by  Prussia,  was 
virtually  rejected  by>-her  rival;  but  he  had  previously 
plied  Bismarck  with  offers  of  an  alliance  against  Aus- 
tria, whereof  the  main  objects  were  the  cession  of  the 
Duchies  to  Prussia,  of  Venetia  (to  Italy,  and  of  more 
than  the  left  bank  of  the  Ehine  to  France.* 


*  That  there  may  be  no  incredulity  on  this  point,  we  will  here  quote 
the  text  of  the  Treaty  (proposed  by  confidential  agents  of  the  Emperor) 
from  Bismarck's  famous  Circular  Despatch  of  29th  July,  1870,  which 
followed  and  explained  the  publication  of  the  notorious  Benedetti  Treaty, 
to  be  afterwards  referred  to.  Bismarck  wrote :  "  In  May,  1866,  these 
pretensions  (of  Napoleon)  assumed  the  form  of  an  offensive  and  defensive 
alliance,  of  which  the  following  extract  has  remained  in  my  hands  "  : — 

(1.)  En  cas  de  congres,  poursuivre  d'accord  la  cession  de  la  Yenetie  a 
1'Italie  et  1'annexion  des  Duches  a  la  Prusse.  (2.)  Si  le  congres  n'aboutit 
pas,  alliance  offensive  et  defensive.  (3.)  Le  Roi  de  Prusse  commencera 
les  hostilites  dans  les  10  jours  apres  la  separation  du  congres.  (4.)  Si  le 
congres  ne  se  reunit  pas,  la  Prusse  attaquera  dans  30  jours  apres  la  sigua- 


374  FRINGE  BISMARCK. 

It  will  always  redound  to  the  honour  of  Bismarck 
that  Napoleon's  bargaining  for  a  bit  of  his  Fatherland 
secretly  revolted  him;  but,  like  a  wise  man,  he  resolved 
to  profit  by  this  incredible  French  ignorance  of  the 
character  of  German  statesmen. 

"  The  impossibility,"  he  said,*  "of  accepting  any  proposal  of  the 
kind  was  clear  to  me  from  the  first,  but  I  thought  it  useful  and  in 
the  interest  of  peace  to  leave  the  French  statesmen  their  favourite 
illusions  as  long  as  possible,  without  giving  them  even  my  verbal 
assent.  I  assumed  that  the  destruction  of  hopes  entertained  by 
France  would  endanger  peace,  which  it  was  the  interest  of  Germany 
and  Europe  to  maintain  .  .  .1  kept  silence  regarding  the 
demands  made,  and  pursued  a  dilatory  course,  without  making  any 
promises." 

It  is  but  just  to  add  that  statements,  both  of  M. 
Benedetti  t  and  General  La  Marmora,  J  have  been  twisted 
into  an  assumption  of  Bismarck's  readiness  to  treat  with 
the  foreigner  for  a  slice  of  his  native  soil;  but,  after 
all,  this  apparent  readiness  cannot  be  proved  to  have 
had  any  but  a  deceptive  and  "  dilatory "  object ;  and 
when  once  taunted  in  Parliament  with  the  charges 

ture  du  present  traite.  (5.)  L'Empereur  des  Fran9ais  declarers  la  guerre 
a  1'Autriche,  des  que  les  hostilites  seront  commencees  entre  1'Autriche  et 
la  Prusse.  (6.)  On  ne  fera  pas  de  paix  separee  avec  1'Autriche.  (7.)  La 
paix  se  fera  sous  les  conditions  suivantes :  La  Yenetie  a  1'Italie.  A  la 
Prusse  les  territoires  allemands  ci-dessous  (7  a  8  millions  d'ames  au 
choix)  plus  la  reforme  federale  dans  le  sens  prussien. — Pour  la  France  le 
territoire  entre  Moselle  et  Rhin  sans  Coblence  ni  Mayence :  comprenant 
500,000  ames  de  Prusse,  la  Baviere  rive  gauche  du  Rhin;  Birkenfeld, 
Homburg,  Darmstadt  213,000  aines.  (8.)  Convention  militaire  et  mari- 
time entre  la  France  et  la  Prusse  des  la  signature.  (9.)  Adhesion  du 
Boi  d'ltalie. 

*  In  the  same  despatch. 

f  "  Ma  Mission  en  Prusse"  despatch  of  4th  June,  p.  165. 

J  "A  little  more  Light." 


THE    "CONFLICT-TIME."  375 

brought   against   him  by    his    Italian   foe,    he   indig- 
nantly replied : 

"  I  never  pledged  or  promised  any  one  the  cession  of  even  so  much 
as  a  (German)  village  or  hay-field ;  and  I  hereby  declare  everything 
that  circulates,  and  has  been  said  on  this  subject,  to  be  wicked  and 
audacious  lies  invented  to  blacken  my  character."* 

It  may  seem  incredible,  but  it  is  nevertheless  true, 
that  while  Napoleon  was  tempting  Bismarck  with  offers 
of  an  alliance  against  Austria,  he  was  at  the  same  time 
secretly  treating  with  Francis  Joseph  for  the  cession  of 
Venetia  in  return  for  Silesia,  the  province  most  proudly 
prized  by  the  Prussian  King  and  people,  f  And  while 
negotiating  separately  and  secretly  with  the  two  sworn 
enemies,  wholly  with  an  eye  to  his  own  advantage,  he 
affected  to  prove  his  own  disinterestedness  by  suggesting 
the  submission  of  their  quarrel  to  a  European  Congress. 
Bismarck  did  not  believe  that  any  congress  or  conven- 
tion whatever  could  supply  the  remedy  of  which  his 
suffering  country  stood  so  much  in  need,  but,  yielding  to 
the  inclination  of  the  King,  who  deemed  that  his  pride 
would  allow  him  to  concede  to  Europe  what  his  honour 
forbade  him  to  grant  to  Austria  alone,  he  accepted  the 

*  Bismarck's  reply  to  speech  of  the  Clerical  deputy,  Herr  von  Mallinck- 
rodt,  in.  the  Reichstag,  16th  January,  1874,  during  the  heat  of  the 
Kulturkampf. 

t  Says  Professor  von  Sybel,  Keeper  of  the  Prussian  State  Archives,  in 
his  pamphlet  on  "Napoleon  III.,"  published  1873  (p.  63) :—"  While  thus 
he  (JSTapoleon)  spoke  openly  for  Prussia  at  Auxerre,  he  was  carrying  on 
profoundly  secret  negotiations  with  Austria  .  .  .  And  thus  it  was  that 
Napoleon  concluded  with  her  (Austria)  on  the  9th  June  a  secret  Treaty, 
by  which,  in  the  event  of  a  successful  war,  the  Emperor  Francis  Joseph 
was  to  cede  Yenetia,  and  receive  for  it  Silesia,  at  the  cost  of  Prussia." 


376  FRINGE   BISMAROK. 

proposal  of  Napoleon.*  Austria,  "however,  as  "he  hoped 
and  knew  she  would,  rejected  it ;  and  when,  in  presence 
of  M.  Benedetti,  the  despatch  from  Paris  announcing 
the  failure  of  the  Congress  was  brought  to  him,  Bis- 
marck joyfully  exclaimed  :  "  Vive  le  Roi!"^ 

"  Well   then,"  said  Bismarck,  to  General  Grovone, 

"  which  of  us  is  now  going  to  apply  fire  to  the  powder, 

Prussia  or  Italy  ?  "  J     And  to  Count  Barral, 

shaii  ^re0  the     the  Italian  Ambassador  :§   "You  would  do 

powder?" 

us  excellent  service  by  attacking  first.  ' 
Why  ?  Because  King  William  still  clung  to  hopes  of 
peace,  and  could  not  be  prevailed  upon  by  his  eager 
Minister  to  draw  the  sword ;  and  his  warlike  Minister, 
whose  only  thought  now  was  to  devise  a  casus  belli, 
calculated  that  if  Italy  could  only  be  induced  to  pre- 
cipitate the  conflict,  the  scruples  of  the  King  would  be 
finally  overcome.  "  If  you  only  knew,"  said  Bismarck 
to  an  opponent  shortly  before  the  war,  "  what  a  fright- 
ful struggle  it  has  caused  me  to  persuade  His  Majesty 
that  we  must  fight,  you  would  also  comprehend  that  I 
am  obeying  the  iron  law  of  necessity."! 

*  England  and  Russia  joined  France  in  proposing  a  Peace  Congress 
at  Paris ;  but  the  proposal  fell  through  in  consequence  of  its  conditional 
acceptance  by  Austria,  who  promised  her  presence  only  under  a  previous 
guarantee  that  "in  the  Conference  there  should  be  no  mention  of  an 
increase  of  power  or  territorial  aggrandisement  to  any  of  the  invited 
States,"  which  was  the  sole  object  of  the  Congress. 

f  Despatch  of  M.  Benedetti  to  M.  Drouyn  de  Lhuys,  4th  June,  1866. 

J  Despatch  of  General  Govone,  3rd  June,  to  his  Government,  given  in 
General  La  Marmora's  revelations. 

§  Despatch  of  5th  June,  idem. 

||  rt  His  assurances  (to  Austria)."  wrote  Sir  A.  Malet,  "  that  nothing 
was  further  from  the  intentions  of  his  royal  master  than  an  offensive  war, 
had  at  the  same  time  a  basis  of  truth  in  the  known  dispositions  of  his 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  377 

Personally  attached  to  tlie  Emperor  Francis  Joseph, 
the  King  could  not  reconcile  himself  to  the  idea  of 
breaking  with  the  dynastic  traditions  of  the  Kingwmiam-s 
past ;  and  even  when  all  hope  of  peace  had 
vanished,  he  entered  into  secret  negotiations  with  his 
brother- Sovereign  without  the  knowledge  of  his  own 
Minister-President.*  Furthermore,  the  King  had  "  re- 
ligious, nay,  even  superstitious  scruples  against  incurring 
the  responsibility  for  a  European  war ; >J  •(•  and  these 
scruples  were  doubtless  deepened  by  the  protests  and 
peace -addresses  which  came  pouring  in  from  all  parts  of 
the  country — from  public  meetings,  and  corporations, 
and  chambers  of  commerce — invoking  "  a  curse  on  the 
heads  of  the  authors  "}  of  the  impending  war.  This 
popular  agitation  against  Bismarck's  policy  had,  as  we 
have  seen,  produced  a  fanatic  who  tried  to  take  his  life ; 
but  the  fact  of  the  attempt  operated  very  differently  on 
the  mind  of  its  object,  and  on  that  of  his  royal  master. 
In  addition  to  all  this,  the  King's  ear  was  accessible  to 
the  tales  of  Court  intrigue,  which  never  fails  to  mis- 
represent the  aims  and  asperse  the  character  of  a  royal 
favourite ;  but  Bismarck  gave  a  signal  proof  of  his 

Prussian  Majesty ;  but  the  Minister  was  labouring  night  and  day  to  pro- 
duce that  change  in  the  King's  sentiments,  which  he  in  the  end  succeeded 
in  effecting ;  and  in  nothing  that  he  undertook,  perhaps,  did  this  remark- 
able man  encounter  greater  difficulties,  or  show  more  consummate  ability, 
than  in  bringing  King  William  to  break  with  tradition,  to  espouse  his 
animosities,  to  see  in  fine  with  the  eyes  of  his  Minister- President." 

*  Bismarck  to  General  Govone,  as  reported  by  the  latter  to  Florence, 
3rd  June,  1866. 

f  Idem. 

I  From  an  address  to  the  King  by  the  Committee  of  the  National 
Union  in  Berlin, 


378  PRINCE   BISMAROK. 

fixity  of  purpose  and  his  strength  of  will  in  overcoming, 
if  not,  perhaps,  removing  all  these  scruples  of  his 
master  against  recourse  to  the  terrible  remedy  of  war. 
Exulting  in  the  failure  of  the  proposed  Peace  Congress, 
and  eager  for  a  pretence  to  commence  hostilities  that 
would  put  an  end  to  an  armed  state  of  suspense  which 
was  beginning  to  be  intolerable,  Bismarck  urged  Italy 
to  draw  the  sword;  but  Italy  preferred  to  adhere  no 
less  to  the  terms  of  her  secret  Treaty  with  Prussia,  than 
to  her  solemn  promise  to  Trance.  What  was  to  be 
done  ?  Fortune  and  the  folly  of  Austria  played  into 
the  hands  of  Bismarck.  Swift  and  bewildering  was  now 
the  march  of  events.  Within  little  more  than  a  week 
from  the  failure  of  the  Congress  scheme  (4th  June), 
Prussia  had  withdrawn  from  the  Germanic  Confedera- 
tion, and  virtually  declared  war  against  Austria.  How, 
then,  had  this  conclusion  been  precipitated? 

On  the  1st  of  June,  Austria,  whose  patience  had 
now  been  skilfully  wearied  out,  declared  that,  being 
unable  to  agree  with  Prussia  as  to  the  disposal  of  the 
Duchies,  she  now  submitted  the  question  to  the  decision 
of  the  Diet ;  and  at  the  same  time  she  issued  orders  for 
convoking  the  estates  of  Holstein,  so  that  the  will  of  the 
province  as  to  its  own  fate  might  also  be 

The    Prussian 

Kte£  ditto  consulted.  "What!  Interfere  with  our 
condominate  rights  in  that  way!''  exclaimed 
Prussia  in  overflowing  wrath.  "  By  appealing  to  the 
Diet  you  have  cast  aside  the  Convention  of  Grastein  and 
returned  to  the  Treaty  of  Vienna,  and  therefore  deprived 
yourself  of  the  exclusive  right  to  convoke  the  estates  of 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME.99  379 

Holstein,  where  we  have  interests  as  well  as  you.  There- 
fore you,  General  Manteuffel,  march  some  of  your  troops 
at  once  into  Holstein,  for  the  protection  of  our  common 
sovereign  rights  which  Austria  has  so  defiantly  out- 
raged." *  Into  Holstein  accordingly  from  Schleswig 
promptly  marched  (7th  June)  grim  ManteufFel  and  his 
helmeted  men,  before  whom  Marshal  Gablenz  and  his 
kepied  Austrians,  fearing  to  risk  an  unequal  conflict,  at 
first  withdrew  from  Kiel  to  Altona,  and  then  bundled 
out  of  the  Duchy  as  nimbly  as  ever  they  could — away 
over  the  Elbe,  away  to  Hanover,  over  the  hills  and  far 
away.  On  the  approach  of  the  Prussians,  too,  the 
Augustenburg  Pretender,  snatching  up  a  few  necessaries, 
vanished  from  Kiel  like  a  streak  of  lightning;  and,  on 
the  12th  of  June,  the  soldiers  of  King  William  found 
themselves  in  sole  and  actual  possession  of  "  Schleswig- 
Holstein  sea- surrounded." 

Two  days  previously  Bismarck  re-intimated  to  the 
Diet  his  readiness  to  accept  its  treatment  of  the  Schles- 
wig-Holstein   question  on   condition  of    its   previously 
accepting  his  proposal  of  Federal   reform, 
which  comprised  the  exclusion  of  Austria     Brothe?snstand 

up  to  fight. 

from  the  new  Confederation,  and  a  national 
Parliament  that  "would  act  as  a  counterpoise  to  dynastic, 
and   therefore   selfish,  interests  in  adjudicating  on  the 
fate  of  the  Duchies. "f  To  this  Austria  promptly  replied 

*  Bismarck's  despatches  of  3rd  and  4th  June,  and  declaration  in 
Official  Gazette  of  5th  June. 

f  The  draft  of  this  Constitution  served  as  the  basis  of  the  Charter  of 
the  North  German  Confederation  which  resulted  from  the  war  now 
imminent. 


380  PRINCE   BISMARCK 

by  protesting  to  the  Diet  against  the  masterful  policy 
of  "  self-help "  pursued  by  Prussia  in  Holstein,  and 
moved  for  the  immediate  mobilisation  of  all  the  Federal 
army  against  the  "  wanton  breaker "  of  the  national 
peace.  On  the  14th  June  this  motion  was  carried  by 
nine  to  six  votes.  Prussia  at  once  declared  her  with- 
drawal from  a  Confederation  which  had  so  flagrantly  ex- 
ceeded its  powers.  Diplomatic  intercourse  between  Vienna 
and  Berlin  was  at  once  broken  off;  the  inevitable  hour 
for  which  Bismarck  had  yearned  so  long  had  now  at 
last  struck ;  and  Germany  found  herself  on  the  eve  of  a 
war  of  which  the  prospect  filled  with  gloom  and  appre- 
hension all  men  save  him  who,  like  another  Columbus 
standing  ever  steadfast  and  hopeful  at  the  helm  of  the 
ship  of  State  amid  a  mutinous  and  despairing  crew,  was 
guiding  it  slowly  but  surely  to  the  shores  of  a  new 
political  world. 

What  days   and  nights  these  were  at  Berlin,  with 
their  physical  toil  and  mental  strain,  their  momentous 
councils,  their  fateful  decisions,  their  flashing  of  tele- 
grams   fraught   with    tremendous    issues  ! 

The  Prussian 

Gae8rmaSd  the  Calmly  resolute  and  prompt  was  Bismarck 
amid  the  wild  excitement  which  now  pre- 
vailed throughout  the  nation.  How  was  the  Prussian 
eagle,  hovering  over  Germany  with  its  back  to  the 
Baltic,  to  dispose  of  the  various  birds  of  prey  which 
formed  a  threatening  and  ever-narrowing  semi-circle 
around  it  ?  "  Look  here,  you  ravenous  and  unreliable 
hawks,"  said  Bismarck  on  the  day  after  the  Prussian 
eagle  had  escaped  froin  the  discordant  aviary  at  Frank- 


TSE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  381 

fort ;  "  look  "here,  you  Kings  of  Saxony  and  Hanover, 
and  you  also,  Elector  of  Hesse-Cassel !  Your  geogra- 
phical facilities  for  dealing  Prussia  an  open  or  secret 
blow  are  too  great  for  us  to  remain  in  a  day's  doubt 
about  your  intentions.  Therefore  declare  unto  us  before 
midnight  your  readiness  to  disarm  and  to  accept  our 
reform  schemes,  in  return  for  our  guarantee  of  your 
territorial  and  sovereign  integrity,  or — or — your  blood 
be  upon  your  own  heads  !  "  * 

What  were  a  Catholic  and  literary  King  John  ruled 
by  a  diplomatic  Dugald  Dalgetty  of  a  Beust,  and  a  poor 
old  blind  King  George  boastful  of  his  ancient  lineage, 
and  a  whimsical  tyrant  of  Elector  of  Hesse, 

.,  ,  . .  «       Hesse  and 

to  say  to  a  terribly  imperative  summons  of  Jjf J£jgj  hof* 
this  kind  ?  All  three  returned  equivocal 
answers  tantamount  to  "  No ! " — and  in  less  than  two 
days  their  capitals  were  in  the  grip  of  Prussian  troops, 
the  two  Kings  fugitives  from  their  dominions,  and  the 
Elector  on  his  way  to  Stettin  as  a  State-prisoner ! 
Never  had  there  been  such  prompt  and  splendid  action 
since  Frederick  the  Great,  suspecting  the  designs  of  the 
Saxons,  marched  on  Dresden  and  seized  the  proofs  of 
their  conspiracy  with  his  foes  ;  or  since  Nelson  sailed  to 
Copenhagen  and  disabled  the  Danish  fleet  from  serving 
the  Corsican  robber  against  the  Mistress  of  the  Seas. 
An  ardent  protest  of  innocence  and  manifesto  from  the 
Emperor  Francis  Joseph,  a  stirring  "  appeal  to  my 

*  Bismarck's  telegraphic  summonses  (Sommationeri)  to  Saxony,  Han- 
over, and  Hesse-Cassel  (of  15th  June),  who  had  all  supported  Austria's 
motion  for  mobilisation  of  the  Federal  army. 


382  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

people  "  and  to  the  "  God  of  battles  "  from  King  William, 
with  a  simultaneous  declaration  of  war  against  Austria 
by  Italy — and  the  diplomatic  act  of  the  great  "  German 
drama,"  in  which  Bismarck  figured  as  the  chief  per- 
former, was  now  succeeded  by  that  phase  of  the  quarrel 
in  which  he  retired  to  the  back  of  the  stage  to  watch, 
with  breathless  Europe,  the  further  development  of  the 
tragedy  by  the  incidents  of  locked  and  mortal  strife. 

It  is  not,  but  we  wish  it  were,  part  of  our  duty  to 
follow  in  all  its  details  the  fascinating  game  of  war, 
Moitke's  which  now  proved  that  Prussia  was  served 
by  the  first  strategist  as  well  as  by  the  first 
diplomatist  in  Europe.  The  confidence  with  which 
Bismarck  had  spoken  and  acted  was  to  a  great  extent 
the  result  of  his  complete  trust  in  the  capability  of  the 
Prussian  army,  and  of  the  soldier  who  was  its  mind  and 
brain,  to  make  good  his  actions  and  his  words ;  and  now 
he  drew  back  and  watched  while  Hellmuth  von  Moltke 
set  all  the  wondrous  machinery  in  harmonious  motion 
by  a  gentle  pressure  of  his  finger,  and  while  he  pored 
over  his  map  in  the  office  of  the  Grand  General  Staff  at 
Berlin,  as  at  a  pensive  game  of  chess,  and  moved  his 
military  pawns  by  touch  of  electric  wire.  Never  before 
had  war  been  waged  in  this  way;  never  had  any  method 
of  waging  war  been  more  swiftly,  more  surprisingly 
successful. 

To  prevent  the  military  union  of  her  foes  in  North 

pian  of  the         Germany  with  her  foes  in  the  South,  was 

Prussia's  first  care.     On  the  rejection  of  her 

overtures   to   Hanover,  Saxony,  and  Hesse-Cassel,  her 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME"  383 

troops,  as  we  have  seen,  at  once  occupied  the  capitals  of 
these  three  States  and  started  in  full  pursuit  of  their 
defenders.  After  displaying  its  traditional  valour  at 
Langensalza,  and  even  repulsing  an  inferior  Prussian 
force,  the  Hanoverian  army  was  next  day  compelled 
to  surrender  unconditionally  to  King  William,  whose 
generals  had  already  displayed  the  outmanoeuvring 
strategy  of  Sedan ;  while  the  Hessians — more  alert  than 
their  ruler,  who  remained  in  his  chateau  at  Wilhelms- 
hohe  only  to  he  made  a  State-prisoner — hurried  off  to* 
effect  a  junction  with  the  army  of  the  South  consisting 
of  a  Bavarian  corps,  40,000  strong,  and  another  mis- 
cellaneous corps  drawn  from  Wurtemherg,  Baden,  Hesse- 
Darmstadt,  and  Nassau,  numbering  46,000.  Against 
this  united,  or  rather  disunited  force,  Prussia  directed 
an  army  of  the  Main  (first  under  Vogel  von  Falcken- 
stein,  and  then  Manteuffel  of  the  Iron  Hand),  which, 
though  little  more  than  half  as  strong  as  its  opponents, 
at  last  succeeded  in  baffling  and  beating  them  in  detail. 
The  Saxons  on  their  part  (30,000  strong),  fearing  to  meet 
the  Prussians  singly,  had  marched  away  with  all  pos- 
sible alacrity  to  join  the  Austrians  in  Bohemia  under 
Benedek,  whose  total  force,  in  consequence  of  Austria's 
having  to  tell  off  about  three-tenths  of  her  strength  to 
face  the  Italians,  consisted  of  only  seven  army  corps 
(apart  from  the  Saxons). 

To  encounter  and  scatter  this  Bohemian  host  was, 
of  course,  the  chief  task  of  the  war ;  and  to  the  cheerful 
performance  of  this  task  there  addressed  themselves 
three  separate  armies  under  the  supreme  command  of 


384  FRINGE  BISMAEGR. 

the  all  but  septuagenarian  King  William;  the  first,  in 
the  centre,  called  the  army  -of  Bohemia,  consisting  of 
three  corps,  or  about  100,000  men,  led  by  Prince 
Frederick  Charles,  the  King's  nephew ;  the  second, 
on  the  left,  called  the  army  of  Silesia,  of  four  corps 
(including  the  Guards),  or  116,000  men,  under  the 
gallant  and  chivalrous  Crown  Prince,  the  King's  son; 
and  the  third,  or  army  of  the  Elbe,  on  the  right, 
composed  of  three  divisions,  or  40,000  men,  commanded 
by  Herwarth  von  Bittenfeld,  equal  in  valour  to  "  Here- 
ward  the  Last  of  the  English." 

"March  separately;  strike  combined" — that  has 
always  been  the  chief  maxim  of  Moltke's  strategy — 
and  never  was  the  maxim  more  fruitful  of  results  than 
in  the  Seven  Weeks'  War.  Seven  weeks?  It  was 
virtually  all  over  in  about  seven  days.  Over  the 
picturesque  hills  of  Saxony,  over  the  Giant  Mountains 
into  the  fertile  plains  of  Bohemia  swiftly  sped  the 
three  superbly -organised  armies  like  huge  and  shining 
serpents ;  and  ever  nearer  did  they  converge  on  the 
point  which,  with  mathematical  accuracy,  had  been 
selected  as  the  place  where  they  would  have  to  coil 
and  deliver  their  fatal  sting  of  fire.  Hard  did  the 
Austrians  try  to  block  the  path  of  the  triune  hosts  and 
crush  them  in  detail ;  but  the  terribly  destructive  needle- 
gun,  with  the  forceful  lance  of  the  lunging  uhlan  and 
the  circling  sabre  of  the  ponderous  cuirassier,  ever  cleared 
the  way ;  and  a  series  of  preliminary  triumphs — Mim- 
chengratz,  Nachod,  Skalitz,  Soor,  and  others — marked 
the  progress  of  the  three  armies  towards  junction  and 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  385 

• 

filial  victory.  On  the  23rd  June,  Prince  Frederick 
Charles  had  crossed  the  Austrian  frontier,  and  by  the 
29th,  being  now  joined  by  Herwarth  von  Bitten  - 
feld,  he  had  reached  GKtschin — the  objective  point  of 
the  invasion.  On  his  left  was  the  Crown  Prince  at 
Konigirihof,  distant  only  about  a  day's  march,  but  for 
strategical  reasons  they  still  remained  apart.  Mean- 
while the  Austrians  had  all  retired  on  Koniggratz,  and 
Europe  held  its  breath  to  watch  the  final  throw  of  "the 
iron  dice  of  the  Grod  of  battles/' 

Bismarck  himself,  whose  own  words  these  are,  was 
anxious   to   witness  the  decisive   move  in.  the  terrible 
game,    and    on    the    30th   June,   with    the     Bismarck  is 
King    and   Counts   Boon   and    Moltke,   he     life  theatrical. 

and  leaves  for 

started  for  the  seat  of  war  from  Berlin,  ^^eatofwar. 
which  was  already  half-delirious  with  the  foretaste  of 
victory.  Of  Bismarck's  treachery  and  Straffordism,  and 
all  the  rest  of  it,  there  was  now  no  more  talk ;  in 
less  than  a  week  success  had  made  his  policy  not  only 
pardonable  but  adorable.  Berlin  was  wild  with  patriotic 
joy ;  and  the  royal  palaces  were  alternately  besieged 
by  excited  multitudes  which,  with  guttural  and  tearful 
emotion,  trumpeted  forth  the  national  air  and  Luther's 
hymn.  Away  also  to  the  residence  of  the  once  detested, 
but  now  idolised,  Minister- President  surged  the  adulating 
human  sea ;  and  the  music  of  its  acclamations  received 
a  bass  accompaniment  from  the  pealing  thunder  which 
at  that  moment  burst  overhead.  "  See,"  said  Bismarck, 
addressing  the  multitude  from  his  balcony,  and  for  once 
in  his  life  making  use  of  dramatic  accessories ;  "  see/' 
z 


386  P&INOE  SISMARC%. 

he  said,  "  the  heavens  are  firing  a  salute  to  our  victories." 
Next  day  (30th  June)  he  left  for  the  seat  of  war,  and 
on  the  1st  July  wrote  to  his  wife  from  Sichrow : — 

"To-day  we  started  from  Reiclienberg,  and  have  just  arrived 
here.  .  .  The  whole  journey  was  dangerous.  Had  the  Austrians 
yesterday  sent  out  their  cavalry  from  Leitmeritz,  they  could  have 
captured  the  King  and  all  of  us.  .  .  Everywhere  we  meet 
prisoners.  .  .  As  far  as  we  have  gone  the  country  does  not  show 
many  traces  of  the  war  beyond  down-trodden  corn-fields.  We  hear 
less  here  than  in  Berlin.  TJiis  castle,  a  very  handsome  one,  belongs 
to  Count  Rohan,  whom  I  used  to  meet  every  year  at  Gastein." 

And  again,  on  2nd  July  (day  before  Koniggratz), 
from  GHtschin  (which  had  been  carried  by  the  bayonet, 
and  formed  headquarters) : — 

"Just  arrived  from  Sichrow  The  field  of  battle  is  still  covered 
with  corpses,  horses,  and  arms.  Our  victories  are  greater  than  we 
thought;  it  appears  that  we  have  over  fifteen  thousand  prisoners, 
while  the  loss  on  the  Austrian  side,  in  dead  and  wounded,  is  still 
more,  being  no  less  than  twenty  thousand.  Two  of  their  corps  are 
utterly  scattered,  and  some  of  their  regiments  are  annihilated  to  the 
last  man.  I  have,  indeed,  up  to  now  seen  more  Austrian  prisoners 
than  Prussian  soldiers.  Send  me  by  every  courier,  if  possible,  at 
least  one  thousand  cigars,  price  twenty  thalers,  for  the  hospital.  All 
the  wounded  ask  me  for  them.  Also  subscribe  through  the  associa- 
tions or  with  your  own  money  for  a  few  dozen  copies  of  the 
Kreuz-Zeitung  for  the  hospitals.  .  .  Please  send  me  a  revolver, 
of  large  size,  a  holster  pistol ;  .  .  .  also  a  novel  to  read,  but  only 
one  at  a  time." 

Great  was  the  enthusiasm  with  which  King  William 
The  eve  of       an(^   ^is   mighty  men   of  valour — his  Bis- 
niggratz.      marck,  his  Moltke,  and  his  Eoon — were  re- 
ceived by  his  devoted  troops.     On  the  afternoon  of  the 
2nd,   after   visiting  the   hospitals  with    Bismarck,   the 


THE  "CONFLIQT-TIME."  887 

King  held  a  council  of  war,  at  which  it  was  decided  to 
let  the  troops  rest  on  the  morrow  and  collect  themselves 
for  a  crushing  blow.  But  meanwhile  a  daring  recon- 
naissance had  revealed  the  fact  that  the  enemy,  in  strong 
force,  were  preparing  to  attack ;  and  at  midnight  the 
King  again  took  council  of  his  paladins,  who  urged  him 
to  wait  not,  neither  rest,  but  strike  at  the  dawn  of  day. 
The  plan  of  attack  was  simple.  Prince  Frederick 
Charles,  with  his  three  corps,  was  to  assault  Eenedek 
with  his  five;  while  Herwarth  von  Bittenfeld  should 
fall  upon  the  left  flank  of  the  Austrians,  and  the  Crown 
Prince  come  thundering  down  on  their  right.  But  the 
Crown  Prince  was  more  than  twenty  miles  away  on  his 
cousin's  left  rear,  and  it  was  four  in  the  morning  before 
Colonel  von  Fin cken stein,  after  a  life  and-death  ride, 
arrived  at  his  headquarters  with  the  commands  of  the 
King.  All  depended  on  the  punctual  co-operation  of 
the  Crown  Prince  ;  but  meanwhile  Frederick  Charles, 
after  a  rainy  night  like  that  which  preceded  Waterloo, 
advanced  and  opened  his  guns  on  the  Austrians. 

The  battle  began  at  eight  o'clock,  and  at  that  hour 
the  King,  with  Bismarck  and  his  staff,  appeared  among 
his  troops,  and  was  received  with  ringing,  thrilling, 
never- ending  cheers.  For  hours  the  rain 
fell  and  the  cannon  roared,  the  country  for 
miles  across  was  enveloped  in  the  sulphurous  and  suffo- 
cating pall  of  volumed  battle-smoke,  and  the  needle- 
gun  wrought  fearful  havoc  among  the  devoted  battalions 
of  Austria ;  but  still  they  kept  their  ground,  and  put 
the  stubborn  valour  and  discipline  of  their  foes  to  the 
z  2 


388  PRINCE  SISMAWK. 

severest  test.  The  scales  of  battle  hung  pretty  evenly, 
albeit  Herwarth  von  Bittenfeld  -had  already  begun  to 
hammer  with  might  and  main  on  the  Austrian  left. 
But  the  Austrian  right,  the  right — that  was  where 
the  Prussians  looked  for  the  coming  of  the  Crown 
Prince  as  anxiously,  as  yearningly  as  Wellington  had 
longed  for  the  arrival  of  Bliicher  from  the  same 
direction.  "  Would  to  Grod  the  Crown  Prince  or 
darkness  would  come  !  "  Moltke  was  almost  beginning 
to  think,  when  suddenly  Bismarck  lowered  his  glass 
and  drew  the  attention  of  his  neighbours  to  certain 
lines  in  the  far  distance.  All  telescopes  were  pointed 
thither,  but  the  lines  were  pronounced  to  be  furrows. 
"  These  are  not  furrows/'  said  Bismarck,  after  another 
scrutinising  look ;  "  the  spaces  are  not  equal ;  they 
are  advancing  lines."*  And  so  they  were;  and  soon 
thereafter  the  cannon- thunder  of  "  Unser  Fritz/'  with 
the  irresistible  rush  of  the  Guards  up  the  heights  of 
Chlum  and  Eosberitz,  brought  relief  and  joy  to  the 
minds  of  all.  Violently  assailed  on,  both  flanks  and 
fiercely  pressed  in  the  centre,  the  Austrians  now  began 
to  slacken  their  fire,  to  waver,  to  give  way,  to  re- 
treat ;  and  soon  their  flight  degenerated  into  headlong 
rout.  Perceiving  his  opportunity,  the  King  led  forward 
in  person  the  whole  cavalry  reserve  of  the  First  Army, 

*  The  well-informed  writer  of  a  series  of  articles  on  "  Die  Gesellschaft 
von  Varzin,  und  Friedrichsruh,''  in  the  Deutsche  Revue  for  October,  1884, 
relates  the  following  incident :  "  At  a  critical  point  in  the  battle,  Bismarck 
met  Moltke  and  offered  him  a  cigar.  The  strategist  carefully  selected  the 
best  weed  in  the  Chancellor's  case,  and  the  latter  took  comfort,  thinking 
to  himself  that  if  the  General  was  still  calm  enough  to  make  a  choice  of 
this  kind,  things  could  not  be  going  so  very  bad  with  them  after  all." 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  389 

which  charged  and  "  completely  overthrew  "  (total  cul- 
butiert,  wrote  His  Majesty)  *  a  similar  force  of  the  foe, 
and  then  the  bloody  and  momentous  hattle  was  won. 
But  even  then  the  retreating  Austrians  rained  on  the 
victors  a  murderous  shell-fire,  "  from  which  Bismarck," 
wrote  the  King,  "anxiously  removed  me."'  Bismarck 
himself  wrote  to  his  wife  : — 

"  On  the  3rd  the  King  exposed  himself  to  danger  all  day,  and  it 
was  very  fortunate  that  I  was  with  him,  for  all  the  cautionings  of 
others  were  of  no  effect."  ("  The  Generals  had  a  super- 
stition that  they,  as  soldiers,  ought  not  to  speak  to  the      Jhe^atUe  as 
King  about  his  danger,   and  sent  me  to  him  every      Bismarck. by 
time,  though  I,  too,  am  a  Major.")     "  No  one  would 
have  ventured  to  speak  as  I  permitted  myself  to  do  the  last  time,  and 
with  success  too,  when  a  whole  mass  of  ten  troopers  and  fifteen  horses 
of  the  6th  Regiment  of  Cuirassiers  lay    wallowing  in  their  blood 
close  to  us,  and  the  shells  whirred  in  unpleasant  proximity  to  the 
King.     The  worst  fortunately  did  not  go  off.     Still  I  would  rather  it 
be  so,  than  that  he  should  err  on  the  side  of  caution.     He  was  very 
enthusiastic  about  his  troops,  and  rightly  so,  and  did  not  appear  to 
notice  the  shells  that  were  whirring  and  bursting  around  him.     He 
was  just  as  quiet  and  comfortable  as  on  the  Kreuzberg "  (parade- 
ground  at  Berlin),  "  and  kept  on  finding  battalions  which  he  wanted 
to  thank,  and  say  good  evening  to,  until  we  were  once  more  under 
fire." 

The  above  may  be  supplemented  by  the  following 
account  of  the  same  incidents,  once  orally  given  by 
Bismarck  himself  : — f 

"  The  attention  of  the  King  was  wholly  fixed  on  the  progress  of 
the  battle,  and  he  paid  not  the  slightest  heed  to  the  shells  that  were 
whizzing  thickly  around  him.  To  my  repeated  request  that  His 
Majesty  might  not  so  carelessly  expose  himself  to  so  murderous  a 

*  In  a  letter  to  Queen  Augusta  written  on  the  morrow  of  the  battle. 
f  Quoted  by  Professor  Miiller  in  his  "  Reichskaifizler  Fiirst  Bismarck," 


390  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

fire,  he  only  answered  :  '  The  commander-in-chief  must  be  where  he 
ought  to  be.'  Later  ©n,  at  the  village  of  Lipa,  when  the  King  in 
person  had  ordered  the  cavalry  to  advance,  and  the  shells  were  again 
falling  round  him,  I  ventured  to  renew  my  request,  saying  :  *  If  your 
Majesty  will  take  no  care  of  your  own  person,  have  pity  at  least  on 
your  (poor)  Minister-President,  from  whom  your  faithful  Prussian 
people  will  again  demand  their  King,  and  in  the  name  of  that  people 
I  entreat  you  to  leave  this  dangerous  spot.'  Then  the  King  gave  me 
his  hand  with  a  '  Well,  then,  Bismarck,  let  us  ride  on  a  little.'  So 
saying  His  Majesty  wheeled  his  black  mare  and  put  her  into  as  easy 
a  canter  as  if  he  had  been  riding  down  the  Linden  to  the  Thiergarten. 
But  for  all  that  I  felt  very  uneasy  about  him,  .  .  .  and  so,  edging 
up  with  my  dark  chesnut  to  Sadowa  "  (the  name  given  to  the  King's 
mare  after  the  battle),  "I  gave  her  a  good  (sly)  kick  from  behind  with 
the  point  of  my  boot ;  she  made  a  bound  forward,  and  the  King 
looked  round  in  astonishment.  I  think  he  saw  what  I  had  done, 
but  he  said  nothing." 

After  the  battle,  which  lasted  eight  hours,  the  King 
with  his  staff  rode  round  the  widely  scattered  positions 
of  his  troops,  and  Bismarck  witnessed  the  touching 
incidents  which  everywhere  marked  his  progress ;  how 
battalion  after  battalion — some  of  them  mere  shadows 
of  their  former  selves — burst  into  frenzied  cheering  and 
rushed  forward — officers  and  men — to  kiss  the  hand,  the 
boot,  the  stirrup,  of  their  beloved  leader ;  and  how,  late 
in  the  evening,  the  drama  of  the  day  was  closed  by  the 
affecting  meeting  of  the  aged  King  and  his  heroic  son — 
a  meeting  which  has  become  as  historical  as  that  of 
Bliicher  and  Wellington.  But  Bismarck  confessed  that 
his  exultation  at  the  stupendous  victory  was  utterly 
marred  by  the  horrible  spectacle  of  the  dead,  the  dying, 
and  the  wounded — about  32,000  in  number — who 
heaped  the  bloody  plain.  The  fatigue  and  excitement 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  391 

of  the  day  had  fairly   worn  out  even   so  Herculean  a 
frame  as  his.     To  his  wife  he  wrote : — 

"  At  Koniggratz  I  rode  my  large  chesnut,  and  was  thirteen  hours 
in  the  saddle  without  giving  it  a  feed .  It  held  out  excellently,  was 
afraid  of  neither  shots  nor  corpses,  nibbled  ears  of  corn  and  plum-tree 
leaves  with  enjoyment  at  the  most  terrible  moments,  and  went  along 
swimmingly  till  the  end,  when  I  seemed  more  fatigued  than  my  horse. 
My  first  sleeping-place  was  on  the  pavement  of  Horitz,  without  any 
straw,  and  only  a  carriage  cushion.  Every  place  was  full  of  the 
wounded.  At  last  the  Grand  Duke  of  Mecklenburg  discovered  me, 
and  shared  his  room  with  me,  R.,  and  two  adjutants,  of  which  I  was 
very  glad  on  account  of  the  rain." 

It  was  only  next  day  that  the  results  of  the  battle 
of  Koniggratz,*  as  the  Prussians,  or  Sadowa,  as  the 
Austrians  call  it,  became  fully  apparent;  a  Resu]t80uhe 
battle  which,  in  point  of  the  numbers — 
430,000  men — who  took  part  in  it,  ranked  after  the 
Volkerschlacht  of  Leipzig.  By  superior  arms,  superior 
numbers,  superior  discipline,  and  superior  strategy, 
Prussia,  at  the  cost  of  10,000  of  her  sons,  had  won  a 
crowning  victory  over  her  rival,  who  lost  40,000  men 
(including  18,000  prisoners),  11  standards,  and  174 
guns.  "  I  have  lost  all,"  exclaimed  Benedek,  "  except, 
alas,  my  life."  It  was  little  wonder  that,  on  the  morrow 
of  Koniggratz,  the  Moniteur  announced  to  the  French 
nation  that  "  an  important  event  has  happened. "  "One 
single  encounter,"  Bismarck  had  said,  "  one  decisive 
battle,  and  Prussia  will  have  it  in  her  power  to  dictate 
conditions."  That  battle  had  now  been  fought  and 

*  The  soldiers  of  King  William  punningly  called  it  the   battle  of 
"  Dem  Koniy  gerath's  "  ("  the  King  wins  "), 


392  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

won ;  and  on  the  evening  of  the  next  day  King  William 
received  a  telegram  from  Napoleon  who,  while  an- 
nouncing that  Francis  Joseph  had  ceded  to  him  Venetia 
(in  trust  for  Italy),  offered  his  services  as  mediator  for  a 
truce  and  a  peace. 

Paris — yes,  Paris — burst  out  into  flags  and  illumina- 
tions.*   And  why  ?    Heaven  only  knew,  for  Koniggratz, 

*  In  the  Deutsche  Rundschau  for  June  and  July,  1881 ,  appeared  some 
"  Reminiscences  of  my  Life,"  by  Count  Seherr-Thoss,  a  nobleman  who  had 
as  early  as  1862,  in  Paris,  offered  to  place  his  services  at  the  disposal  of 
the  Prussian  Minister  in  the  event  of  his  desiring  to  enter  into  relations 
with  Hungary,  and  to  play  the  role  of  a  German  Cavour.  Starting  from 
Paris  immediately  after  receiving  the  news  of  Koniggriitz,  Count  Seherr- 
Thoss  arrived  at  the  Prussian  headquarters  (Pardubitz)  on  the  8th  July, 
and  caused  much  amusement  by  relating  how  Paris  had  "  burst  out  into  flags 
and  illuminations  "  on  hearing  that  Francis  Joseph  had  ceded  Yenetia  to 
Napoleon.  "  Looking  like  the  god  Jupiter,"  wrote  the  Count,  "  Bismarck 
appeared  in  the  simple  uniform  of  a  major,  and  was  respectfully  saluted  on 
all  sides.  I  had  scarcely  told  him  my  errand  when  Bismarck  interrupted 
me,  and  ran  to  the  King  to  prevent  his  receiving  General  Gablenz,  who 
had  just  come  for  the  second  time  to  demand  an  armistice.  Returning, 
he  offered  me  a  cigar,  and  said  :  '  And  you  also  put  me  down  as  a  Junker 
and  a  reactionary.  Appearances  are  often  deceptive.  I  was  obliged  to 
play  that  part  to  attain  my  ends.  On  all  sides  people  tried  to  prejudice 
the  King  against  me  by  representing  me  as  a  Democrat  in  disguise.  I 
succeeded  in  obtaining  his  entire  confidence  by  showing  him  that  I  did 
not  flinch  even  before  the  resistance  of  the  Chamber  when  the  object  was 
the  reorganisation  of  the  army,  without  which  war  was  impossible  and  the 
security  of  the  State  in  danger.  But  in  this  struggle  my  nerves  have 
suffered,  and  all  my  vital  forces  have  been  exhausted.'  *  But  I  have 
vanquished  them  all,'  he  cried  in  magnificent  (crescendo)  wrath,  smiting 
the  table  violently  with  his  hand,  -and  mentioning  the  names  of  three 
persons  who  seemed  to  have  caused  him  special  annoyance.  Within  the 
next  ten  minutes  two  despatches  from  Central  Germany  arrived,  both 
announcing  victories,  and  I  took  the  liberty  of  asking  him  what  would  be 
the  fate  of  Southern  Germany.  He  replied :  *  What  could  we  do  with 
those  Ultramontanes  1  We  don't  want  them,  and,  moreover,  we  must  not 
swallow  more  than  we  can  digest.  We  will  not  fall  into  the  same  mistake 
as  Piedmont,  which  has  rather  weakened  than  strengthened  itself  by  the 
Annexation  of  Naples,' " 


THE   "CONFLICT-TIME."  393 

"that  improbable  and  unexpected  event/'  had  filled 
Napoleon  and  his  satellites  "  with  patriotic  anxiety." 
And  yet  not  so  much  with  this  honourable  Paris  burstg 
feeling  as  with  furious  disappointment, 
jealousy,  greed,  monkey  -  spite,  and  the  spirit  of 
meddling.  Napoleon  had  calculated  on  the  defeat  of 
Prussia,  and  one  battle  had  made  her  absolute  mistress 
of  Germany.  He,  more  than  any  other,  had  egged  her 
on  to  this  conflict  in  the  belief  that  he  was  urging  her 
on  to  ruin,  and  now  he  himself  was  caught  in  the  snare 
which  he  had  laid  for  others.  It  was  not  to  be  won- 
dered at  that  a  ruler,  who  was  grossly  ignorant  of  the 
true  state  of  his  own  army,  should  have  misjudged  the 
military  condition  of  his  neighbours ;  and  the  error  of 
judgment  had  landed  him  in  a  most  deplorable  dilemma. 
But  the  resources  of  our  Imperial  lago  were  not  yet 
exhausted.  Having*  signally  failed  of  his  object  by 
craftily  setting  two  rivals  by  the  ears,  he  now  essayed 
to  achieve  it  by  posing  as  the  magnanimous  arbiter 
between  them.  That  the  designs  of  this  "  dishonest 
broker "  were  now  again  fairly  baffled  must  always  be 
reckoned  as  one  of  the  greatest  diplomatic  triumphs  of 
Bismarck,  and  at  the  same  time  as  one  of  the  chief 
causes  of  the  subsequent  conflict  between  France  and 
Germany;  for  that  the  war  of  1870 — apart  from  all 
Spanish -succession  questions — was  the  direct  result  of 
the  war  of  1866,  can  as  little  be  doubted  as  that  thunder 
is  preceded  by  lightning. 

Not  by  the  Italians  themselves — for  their  army  had 
been  soundly  thrashed  by  the  Austrians  on  the  plains  of 


394  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

Verona — but  by  the  Prussians  in  Bohemia,  had  Venetia 
been  wrested  from  the  grasp  of  Austria;  and  on  the 
Na  oieon  morrow  of  Koniggratz,  Francis  Joseph,  while 

ceding  the  province  to  Napoleon,  begged  the 


friendly  intervention  of  his  brother-Emperor 
to  prevent  further  bloodshed.  "  H'm  !  "  thought  some, 
"  clearly  to  gain  time  by  diplomatic  palavering,  and 
thus  allow  the  victorious  Austrian  army  of  the  South  to 
join  their  defeated  comrades  in  the  North."  Bismarck 
was  equal  to  the  occasion.  "  Certainly,"  replied  King 
William  to  Napoleon's  telegram,  "we  are  prepared  to 
accept  your  mediation,  but  of  a  truce  there  can  only  be 
talk  when  we  get  from  Austria  the  pledge  of  an  accept- 
able peace."  And  meanwhile  the  military  preparations 
were  pushed  forward  with  the  utmost  energy.  Prague 
was  occupied,  various  minor  engagements  were  fought 
with  the  retreating  Austrians,  till  at  last  the  Prussian 
outposts  caught  sight  of  the  glittering  towers  of  Vienna. 
To  his  wife  Bismarck  wrote  on  the  9th  July  (six  days 
after  Koniggratz) : — 

"  We  are  getting  on  well,  and  if  we  do  not  carry  our  demands 
too  far,  or  think  that  we  have  conquered  the  world,  we  shall  attain  a 
peace  which  is  worth  the  pains.  We  are,  however,  as  easily  in- 
toxicated as  cast  down,  and  I  have  the  thankless  task  of  pouring 
water  in  the  foaming  wine,  and  pointing  out  that  we  are  not  living 
alone  in  Europe,  but  with  three  neighbours.  The  Austrians  are  in 
Moravia,  and  we  are  already  so  bold  as  to  have  appointed  as  our 
headquarters  for  to-morrow  the  place  where  they  are  encamped  to- 
day. Prisoners  and  guns  keep  on  coming  in  to  us ;  of  the  latter,  we 
have  got  180  since  the  3rd.  If  they  bring  up  their  Southern  army, 
we  shall  defeat  them  once  more,  with  God's  gracious  aid.  This  con- 
fidence is  quite  general.  I  should  like  to  kiss  our  fellows — they  are 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  895 

all  so  contemptuous  of  death,  quiet,  obedient,  and  well-behaved.  In 
spite  of  empty  stomachs,  wet  clothes,  damp  quarters,  little  sleep,  and 
boots  with  the  soles  falling  off,  they  are  friendly  towards  every  one. 
They  neither  plunder  nor  burn,  but  pay  when  they  can,  and  eat 
mouldy  bread.  There  must  be  a  great  store  of  the  fear  of  God  in 
the  hearts  of  our  common  men,  or  all  this  would  not  be  possible." 


What  is  your  "  pledge  of   an   acceptable   peace? " 
asked   Napoleon,  whose  conception   of   the  duty-  of  a 
"  magnanimous   mediator "  was    peculiar ;   for  he   had 
undertaken  to  intervene  on  behalf  of  fallen 
Austria,  and  yet  was  willing,  for  a  solid  con-     parleys  with 

J  Napoleon. 

sideration  (left  Rhine-bank),  to  arbitrate  in 
favour  of  Prussia.  "  Pledge  of  peace  ?  "  answered 
Bismarck ;  "  well,  say,  exclusion  of  Austria  from  the 
Confederation,  erection  of  a  new  Federal  State  under 
Prussia,  and  her  acquisition  of  certain  lands  that  have 
hitherto  interfered  with  her  free  and  natural  develop- 
ment." This  rather  staggered  the  "  magnanimous 
mediator,"  who  made  the  counter-proposal  that  Germany 
should  split  itself  into  three  independent  parts — Prussia, 
Austria,  and  a  Confederation  of  the  other  States — which 
would  have  admirably  suited  his  policy  of  divide  et 
impera.  "  But  it  will  not  suit  ours  at  all,"  rejoined 
Bismarck,  "  so  let  us  drop  the  subject.".  "Very  well, 
then,"  replied  Napoleon,  more  in  secret  anger  than  in 
sorrow,  "  take  this :  '  Integrity  of  Austria,  but  its 
exclusion  from  Germany  as  newly  constituted;  the 
formation  of  a  North  German  Union  under  the  mili- 
tary leadership  of  Prussia;  the  right  of  the  Southern 
States  to  form  an  independent  Federal  Union,  but  the 


396  FRINGE  BISMARCK. 

maintenance  of  a  national  connection  between  North 
and  South  Germany,  said  connection  to  be  determined 
by  a  free  and  general  consent  of  the  various  States/ ' 

Meanwhile  M.  le  Comte  Benedetti,*  French  Ambas- 
sador at  Berlin,  made  his  appearance  at  the  Prussian  head- 
quarters, of  purpose  to  stay  the  conquerors 

Benedetti  ap-         •       t\     •  111  -i    •    i       ,    i  ^ 

pears  on  the        in  their  career  ;  but  he  was  plainly  told,  as 

Krone.  £  J 


Marshal  Grablenz  had  twice  already  been 
told,  that  an  .armistice  could  not  be  concluded  without 
the  assent  of  Italy,  and  without  a"  guarantee  of  peace. 
Away,  therefore,  he  sped  to  Vienna  with  the  latest 
proposal  of  his  master — acting  the  part  of  a  shuttle  in 

*  As  we  shall  frequently  have  to  encounter  this  diplomatic  personage, 
we  may  as  well  present  our  readers  with  the  following  life-like  sketch  of 
him,  drawn  by  Oskar  Meding  ("  Gregor  Sarnarow  ")  in  Chapter  XIX. 
("Bismarck's  Diplomacy")  of  his  most  interesting,  because  historically 
accurate  novel,  "For  Sceptre  and  Crown"  (Um  Scepter  und  Krone),  of 
which  an  excellent  English  translation  appeared  in  1875 :  "  Monsieur 
Benedetti  presented  a  remarkable  contrast  to  the  powerful  form  and  firm, 
soldier-like  bearing  of  the  Prussian  Minister.  He  was  somewhat  past 
fifty,  his  thin  hair  had  receded  from  his  forehead,  and  only  sparingly 
covered  the  upper  part  of  his  head.  His  smooth,  beardless  face  was  one  of 
those  physiognomies  whose  age  it  is  difficult  to  discover,  as  when  young 
they  look  older,  when  old,  younger  than  they  really  are.  It  would  have 
been  difficult  to  say  what  characteristic,  what  individuality,  such  features 
could  express ;  nothing  was  seen  beyond  a  calm  expression  of  receptive 
and  intelligent  sensibility  to  every  impression  ;  what  lay  behind  this  gentle, 
courteous  exterior,  it  was  impossible  to  discover.  His  eyes  were  bright 
and  candid,  apparently  careless  and  indifferent ;  it  was  only  by  the  rapid 
and  keen  glance  with  which  he  occasionally  took  in  every  circumstance 
around  him,  that  he  betrayed  the  lively  interest  that  really  actuated  him. 
His  face  told  nothing,  expressed  nothing,  and  yet  one  perceived  involun- 
tarily that  behind  this  nothing  lay  something,  carefully  concealed.  He  was 
of  middle  height,  and  the  bearing  of  his  slender  figure  was  elegant,  in  hia 
movements  he  was  as  animated  as  an  Italian,  as  pliant  and  elastic  as  an 
Oriental ;  his  light  summer  clothes  were  extremely  simple,  but  notwith- 
standing the  journey  from  which  he  had  just  returned,  they  were  of  spot- 
less freshness." 


THE  " OONFLIOT-TIME"  397 

the  motley  web  of  diplomacy  now  being  woven — and 
back  he  came  post-haste  to  the  camp-court  of  King 
William,  which,  ever  nearing  Vienna,  was  now  esta- 
blished in  the  romantic  old  castle  of  Nicolsburg,  where 
Napoleon  I.  had  also  resided  after  the  battle  of  Auster- 
litz.  Back  came  breathless  M.  Benedetti  (19th  July) 
with  the  triumphant  news  that,  with  infinite  pains,  he 
had  prevailed  on  Francis  Joseph  to  accept  the  sugges- 
tions of  Napoleon  as  the  basis  of  negotiations.  And 
was  not  this  first  success  of  the  Napoleonic  mediation 
calculated  to  fill  the  mind  of  Bismarck  with  moderation 
and  gratitude  ?  On  the  contrary,  artless  M.  Benedetti 
was  shocked  to  find  that  the  Prussian  Minister- President 
only  hem'd  and  hah'd,  and  wondered  why  the  French 
Emperor  could  have  shown  such  a  stingy  spirit  in 
seeking  to  curtail  a  conqueror  of  his  natural  rights; 
for  had  not  King  William  vowed  that,  "  after  making 
such  sacrifices  as  he  had  done,  he  would  rather  abdicate 
than  return  home  without  a  considerable  addition  of 
territory"  ?*  But  of  any  territorial  addition  to  Prussia, 
on  the  basis  of  peace  proposals  of  Napoleon,  there  was 
not  one  single  word. 

Bismarck  was  perfectly  frank  with  his  astute  French 
friend.     While  declaring  that  the  King  was     Bismarck 

.,,.  ji       -VT         i          •  i  diplomatises 

willing  to  accept  the  Napoleonic  proposal  as     jj™j  <£e 
the  basis  of  a  five  days'  truce,  he  avowed     bassador- 


*  Despatch  of  Bismarck  to  Prussian  Ambassador  in  Paris,  of  20th 
July,  captured  by  Austrians  and  first  published  in  1869  in  their  Official 
History  of  the  War.  The  divulgence  of  this  document  formed  the  subject 
of  remonstrance  on  the  part  of  the  Prussian  Government. 


398  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

that  the  main  condition  of  a  definitive  peace  could 
only  be  the  cession  to  Prussia  of  Hanover,  Saxony,  and 
Hesse,  which  had  hitherto,  like  wedges  driven  into  the 
stem  of  an  oak,  impeded  her  natural  growth  and  split 
her  into  sprawling,  disconnected  fragments.  These 
States  had  been  fairly  warned  before  the  outbreak  of 
hostilities,  but  had  nevertheless  taken  up  arms  against 
Prussia ;  and  now  the  necessities  of  her  own  position,  no 
less  than  the  national  needs  of  Germany,  compelled  her 
to  assert  the  priority  of  her  rights  as  a  conqueror  over 
the  pleadings  of  sentimental  humanitarians  for  the 
piteous  fate  of  the  fallen,  and  for  the  principle  of  legiti- 
mate and  old-established  monarchy. 

M.  Benedetti  affected  to  believe  that,  in  making  such 
"  monstrous  demands,"  Bismarck  was  not  in  earnest,  and 
reminded  him  that  Europe  was  no  longer  living  in  the 
time  of  Frederick  the  Great,  who  (like  Eob  Eoy)  kept 
whatever  he  took.*  Bismarck  returned  that  no  State 
would  seriously  oppose  the  designs  of  Prussia.  "  What 
about  England,  and  her  old  dynastic  ties  with  Hanover  ?  " 
asked  M.  Benedetti.  Bismarck,  who  remembered  what 
England  had  done  for  Denmark,  only  shrugged  his 
shoulders.  "  And  Eussia  ?  "  inquired  the  French  Am- 
bassador. Bismarck  knew  that  General  Manteuffel  was 
about  to  proceed  to  St.  Petersburg  with  assurances  which 
would  defeat  all  opposition  in  that  quarter ;  assurances 
that  opened  up  to  Eussia  the  hopeful  prospect  of  her 
soon  being  able  to  take  advantage  of  France's  difliculties 
and  shake  herself  free  of  the  Black  Sea  Treaty — for 

*  Despatch  of  M.  Benedetti  of  15th  July. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME"  399 

which,  under  Prince  Grortchakoff,  she  was  so  patiently 
yet  resolutely  V  gathering  herself."*  "And  France?" 
continued  M.  Benedetti,  with  the  self-satisfied  look  of  a 
man  who  thinks  he  has  at  last  delivered  a  poser.  "  Well, 
what  of  France  ?  "  rejoined  Bismarck.  "  The  Emperor 
will  surely  never  dispute  our  right  to  annex  the  countries 
above-mentioned."  "Well,  perhaps  not,"  responded 
Monsieur  Benedetti  with  a  whisper,  and  a  furtive  look 
round  to  see  that  no  one  was  listening,  "  on  condition  of 
your  giving  us  due  compensation ;  on  condition  of  your 
giving  us  Mayence,  and  restoring  us  the  Ehine-frontier 
of  1814. "f  "  Well  done,  magnanimous  and  disinterested 
mediator ! "  thought  Bismarck,  who  now  cast  ahout  to 
hoist  the  Imperial  plotter  with  his  own  petard. 
Mastering  his  boiling  rage  at  the  incredible  impudence 
of  such  a  demand,  he  merely  replied  that  the  question 
of  "  compensation "  to  France  could  best  be  settled 
after  the  conclusion  of  peace  with  Austria,  which  was 
meanwhile  the  most  pressing  matter  in  hand;  and 
Monsieur  Benedetti,  agreeing,  was  thus  converted  to  a 
course  that  was  to  bring  home  to  him  and  his  master 
the  bitter  truth  of  the  maxim,  that  it  is  bootless  to  shut 
the  stable -door  after  the  steed  is  stolen. 

*  "La Russie  ne  boude  pas,  elle  se  receuille"  Her  renunciation  of 
the  Black  Sea  Treaty  in  1870,  which  was  not  objected  to  by  Prussia,  was 
intimately  connected  with  Manteuffel's  mission  to  St.  Petersburg  in  1866 ; 
but  of  this  more  anon. 

f  Vide  post,  p.  404  "  A  la  verite,  pendant  que  je  me  trowvais  encore 
a  Nikolsburg,  et  au  moment  ou  les  plenipotentiaires  de  deux  puissances 
belligerantes  touchaient  au  terme  de  leurs  negociations,  je  fus  informs  que 
le  gouvernement  de  I'Empereur  avait  decide  de  demander  a  la  Prusse  d, 
titre  de  compensation,  le  redressement  de  notre  frontiere  de  VEst." — 
"  Ma  Mission  en  Prusse,"  p.  177. 


400  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

Within  a  week  after  this  interview,  Bismarck,  who 

always  had  a  strong  liking  for  the  logic  offaits  acconiplis, 

sent  for  the   French  Ambassador  and  told 

naries  of  him,  to  his  no  small  consternation,  that  by 

Nicolsburg.  J 

the  Preliminaries  of  Peace  of  Nicolsburg 
(26th  July)  which  had  just  been  signed,  Austria,  among 
other  things,  agreed  to  a  Prussian  annexation  of  Schles- 
wig-Holstein,  Hanover,  Hesse-Cassel  and  Nassau,  and 
the  Free  City  of  Frankfort.  But  what  had  Monsieur 
Benedetti  been  about,  that  all  this  was  done  without  his 
direct  cognisance  and  approval?  Had,  then,  the  repre- 
sentative of  the  grande  nation  not  been  admitted  to  the 
peace  conferences  ?  No,  indeed  ;  he  had  to  remain  out 
in  the  cold,  and  pick  up  such  scanty  crumbs  of  informa- 
tion as  were  freely  flung  him,  or  as  he  could  gather  from 
beneath  the  sumptuous  table  of  babbling  Eumour,  while 
Bismarck  sat  closeted  with  Count  Karolyi  and  Baron 
Brenner,  and  re-fashioned  the  map  of  Germany  accord- 
ing to  his  iron  will  and  pleasure.* 

*  The  conference  between  Bismarck  and  the  Austrian  plenipoten- 
tiaries, which  led  to  the  signature  of  the  peace  preliminaries,  began  on  the 
22ud  July,  after  King  William  had  accepted  Napoleon's  proposal  as  the 
basis  of  a  five  days'  truce —  a  truce  which  arrested  the  victorious  progress 
of  the  Prussians  at  Blumenau,  near  Pressburg,  just  as  this  city,  the  key 
of  Hungary,  was  within  their  masterful  grasp.  Apropos  of  this  incident, 
the  following  anecdote  may  be  given  from  Dr.  Busch  (Neue  Tagebuchs- 
blatter) :  "  We  were  discussing  the  Bohemian  campaign,  when  the  Prince 
related  the  following  characteristic  episode  :  '  At  the  council  of  war  held 
in  my  room  at  Nicolsburg,  niy  colleagues  wished  to  carry  the  campaign 
into  Hungary.  I  was,  however,  opposed  to  it ;  the  cholera,  the  Hungarian 
steppes,  political  considerations,  and  many  other  matters  presented,  as  I 
thought,  obstacles  to  be  well  weighed.  They  persisted,  however,  in  their 
opinion,  and  in  vain  I  repeated  my  protest  against  the  enterprise.  I  then 
went  into  my  chamber,  which  was  separated  from  the  room  by  a  wooden 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME*  401 

And  yet  not  wholly  so,  for  he  was  finally  moved  from 
his  firm  resolve  to  annex  the  Kingdom  of  Saxony,  whose 
stubborn  and  intriguing  opposition  (under 
its  Prime  Minister,  Herr  von  Beust)  to  his 
reform  schemes  had  been  one  of  the  main  causes  of  the 
war.  But  on  the  subject  of  Saxony,  which  had  bled  so 
freely  for  him  on  the  field  of  Koniggratz,  Francis  Joseph 
was,  or  pretended  to  be,  quite  inexorable ;  and  his  pro- 
testations were  supported  by  the  Emperor  of  the  French, 
who  had  been  personally  implored  by  Beust  to  stand 
up  for  the  King  of  Saxony  in  his  hour  of  stress,  as  the 
King  of  Saxony,  alone  of  all  the  German  Princes,  had 
stood  by  the  Great  Napoleon  after  his  collapse  at 
Leipzig — a  prayer  with  which  Napoleon  the  Little  was 
all  the  more  willing  to  comply,  as,  under  the  mask  of 
magnanimity,  he  would  thus  be  able  to  thwart  the 
ambitious  and  disquieting  schemes  of  successful  Prussia. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  Saxony  was  less  essential  to  the 
territorial  perfection  of  Prussia  than  Hanover  and 
Hesse ;  and  Bismarck  wisely  deemed  it  not  worth  the 
while  to  provoke  a  renewal  of  the  conflict  for  the  sake 
of  this,  kingdom,  provided  its  accession  to  the  new 
Confederation  of  the  North  were  secured.  Bather, 
however,  than  yield  on  the  latter  point,  he  threatened 
to  break  off  the  peace  negotiations ;  and  thus  a  compro- 
mise was  effected  which  saved  the  sovereign  integrity 
of  Saxony,  but  yet  defeated  her  desire  of  throwing  in 

partition  only,  locked  my  door,  threw  myself  upon  the  bed,  and  wept  alond 
from  nervous  excitement.  After  a  short  time  they  .were  quiet,  and  the 
idea  was  given  up.'  " 

A  A 


Prussia's 
gains. 


402  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

her  fate  with,  the  States  of  the   South  under  —  in  all 
probability  —  a  French  protectorate. 

But  without  Saxony,  Prussia  had  every  reason  to  be 
satisfied  with  the  other  territories  she  had  acquired  — 
territories  which  added  four  and  a  half 
millions  to  her  population,  and  increased  her 
area  by  about  a  fourth  of  its  previous  extent.  There 
is,  indeed,  reason  to  believe  that  King  Willia"m  was  also 
bent  on  annexing  part  of  Bohemia,  and  that  he  was 
only  turned  from  his  determination  by  the  urgent 
representations  of  Bismarck,  who,  true  to  his  "un- 
grateful task  of  pouring  water  into  the  foaming  wine," 
rightly  argued  that  such  an  act  would  leave  a  thorn  in 
the  heart  of  the  Austrians  that  must  needs  one  day 
blossom  out  into  a  luxuriant  plant  of  revenge.  Well 
appreciating  the  wisdom  of  treating  vanquished  Austria 
with  moderation,  and  even  magnanimity,  Bismarck  was 
content  with  her  entire  exclusion  from  the  Grennan 
family  of  States,  being  minded  to  keep  open  the  door  of 
future  reconciliation  by  exacting  no  greater  material 
indemnity  for  war-expenses  than  payment  of  forty 
million  thalers.* 

In  spite  of  the  fact,  too,  that  all  the  South  German 
States,  with  the  exception  of  Baden,  invoked 
the  intervention  of  Napoleon  in  favour  of 
lighter  conditions  of  peace,  they  had  every 
reason  to  be  satisfied  with  the  penalties  imposed  upon 

*  Reduced  by  a  half,  in  recognition  of  certain  counter-claims  of  Austria 
in  connection  with.Schleswig-Holstein,  &c.  Saxony  also  had  to  pay  ten 
million  thalers. 


States. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  403 

them.  Bavaria  and  Hesse  were  let  off  with  the  pay- 
ment of  thirty  and  three  million  guldens  respectively, 
and  the  cession  of  some  few  straggling  patches  of 
territory  for  the  hetter  rectification  of  the  Prussian 
frontier;  while  Wiirtemberg  and  Baden  were  mulcted 
in  the  several  sums  of  eight  and  six  million  guldens. 
The  offence  of  the  Southern  States  being  exactly  the 
same  as  that  of  their  Northern  allies,  who  had  to  expiate 
their  sins  by  their  very  existence,  it  may  seem  strange 
that  the  former  were  treated  with  such  comparative 
mercy.  The  peace  preliminaries  had  secured  to  them — 
mainly  at  the  instance  of  Napoleon — "  international  and 
independent  existence  ;"  but  how  had  Bismarck  been 
induced  to  let  them  enter  on  this  advantageous  kind  of 
national  life  on  such  easy  terms  ?  A  dramatic  incident 
will  soon  explain. 

Bismarck  had  left  Berlin  on  the  30th  of  June,  and 
on  the  4th  of  August  he  returned  with  the  King  after 
an  absence  of  little  more  than  a  month,  with 
the  draft  of  the  Treaty  of  Prague,*  embody- 
ing  the"  results  of  the  war  already  referred  to,  in  his 
pocket.  Sitting  in  his  cabinet  two  days  after  his  arrival 
home,  pondering  proudly  on  the  undreamt-of  issue  of 
the  campaign  and  the  jubilant  acclamations  which  had 
greeted  his  return,!  he  is  aroused  from  his  reverie  by  a 

*  The  Treaty  of  Prague,  which  will  be  found  in  the  Appendix,  was 
not,  indeed,  signed  till  the  23rd  of  August,  about  the  same  time  as  the 
Treaties  with  the  South  German  States  ;  but  the  basis  of  all  these  instru- 
ments had  been  agreed  upon  before  Bismarck  returned  to  Berlin,  and  so, 
for  the  sake  of  artistic  unity,  we  have  anticipated  the  historical  fact. 

f  It  was  a  moving  spectacle  (the  return  to  Berlin  of  the  King 
and  his  paladins),  wrote  the  Times  Correspondent.  "  The  illurnmatioaa 
A  A  2 


404  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

knock  at  the  door,  and  enter  the  Genius  of  Compensa- 
tion in  the  shape  of  bland  Monsieur  Benedetti  with  the 
draft  of  a  treaty  in  his  hand. 

"Ah,  bon  jour,  votre  Excellence;  how  can  I  serve 
you  ?  " 

"  Well,  to  he  brief,  by  restoring  to  France  her  Ehine 
frontier  of  1814."* 

shed  floods  of  light,  the  caimon  roared,  and  the  strains  of  the  national 
anthem  rose  gloriously  over  the  thousands  of  privileged  spectators  pressing 
round  the  official  circle.  In  another  moment  Count  Bismarck,  in  the 
uniform  of  a  Major  in  the  Landwehr  Cuirassiers,  left  the  royal  carriage. 
Jubilant  hurrahs  received  the  able  and  courageous  Minister,  who,  with 
friends  thronging  forward  to  shake  hands,  and  wife  and  children  claiming 
his  first  attention,  found  himself  immediately  surrounded  by  a  dense 
crowd  of  eager  and  sincere  well-wishers." 

*  "  It  is  well  known  that  on  the  6th  of  August,  1866,  it  came  to  this, 
that  I  was  treated  to  a  visit  from  the  French  ambassador,  who,  in  brief 
language,  delivered  the  ultimatum — cede  Mayence  to  France,  or  expect  an 
immediate  declaration  of  war.  Of  course  I  did  not  hesitate  one  second 
with  my  answer,  and  it  was,  '  Very  well,  then,  let  there  be  war  ! '  With 
this  reply  he  went  back  to  Paris,  where  they  thought  over  the  matter  and 
gave  me  to  understand  that  his  (Benedetti's)  first  instructions  were 
extorted  from  the  Emperor  during  his  illness." — Speech  of  Bismarck  in 
the  Reichstag,  2nd  May,  1871.  In  revealing  this  fact  to  the  Powers  in  a 
Note  of  August  10th,  1870  (part  of  the  celebrated  and  sensational  Bene- 
detti revelations),  Herr  von  Thile  wrote,  "  on  behalf  of  Bismarck"  :  "  In  the 
archives  of  the  Foreign  Office  at  Berlin  is  preserved  a  letter  from  Count 
Benedetti  to  me,  dated  August  5th,  1866,  and  a  draft  Treaty  enclosed  in 
that  letter.  Copies  of  both  are  appended  to  the  present  communication. 
The  originals,  in  Count  Benedetti's  handwriting,  I  shall  submit  to  the 
inspection  of  the  representatives  of  the  neutral  Powers,  and  I  will  also 
send  you  a  photographic  facsimile  of  the  same."  Here,  for  curiosity's 
sake,  is  the  text  of  both  the  letter  and  draft  Treaty.  The  letter : — 

Particuliere. 

Mon  cher  President ! 

^En  reponse  aux  communications  que  j'ai  transmises  de  Nikolsbourg 
a  Paris  a  la  suite  de  notre  entretien  du  26  du  mois  dernier,  je  re9ois 
de  Vichy"  (where  the  Emperor  was  staying),  "le  projet  de  convention  secrete 
que  vous  trouverez  ci- joint  en  copie.  Je  in'empresse  de  vous  en  donner 
connaissance  afin  que  vous  puissiez  1' examiner  a  votre  loisir.  Je  suis  da 


THE  "  CONFLICT-TIME"  405 

"  What  ?     Your  Excellency  must  be  mad  !  " 

"  No,  indeed ;  '  my  pulse,  as  yours,  doth  temperately 
keep  time,  and  makes  as  healthful  music.'  The  dynasty 
of  my  master  were  in  danger,  if  public  opinion  in  France 
is  not  appeased  by  some  such  concession  from  Ger- 
many." 

"  Tell  your  Imperial  master  that  a  war  (against 
us)  in  certain  eventualities  would  be  a  war  with  revo- 
lutionary means,  and  that,  amid  revolutionary  dangers, 
the  German  dynasty  would  be  sure  to  fare  much  better 
than  that  of  the  Emperor  Napoleon."* 

"  No  prevarication — Mayence,  or  an  immediate  de- 
claration of  war." 

"  Very  well,  then,  let  there  be  war,"  said  Bismarck, 
who  knew  that  the  Southern  States  had  already  agreed 

reste   a  votre   disposition  pour  en   conferer  avec  vous   quand  vous  en 
jugerez  le  moment  venu. 

Tout  a  vous 
Dimanche  5  Aout  1866.  .  (signe)  Benedetti. 

The  Treaty  .— 

Article  I. 

L'Empire  fran^ais  rentre  en  possession  des  portions  de  territoire  qui, 
appartenant  aujourd'hui  a  la  Prusse,  avaient  ete  comprises  dans  la  delimi- 
tation de  la  France  en  1814. 

Article  II. 

La  Prusse  s'engage  a  obtenir  du  Roi  de  Baviere  et  du  Grand  Due  de 
Hesse,  sauf  a  fournir  a  ces  Princes  des  dedommagements,  la  cession  des 
portions  de  territoire  qu'ils  possedent  sur  la  rive  gauche  du  Bhin  et  a  en 
transferor  la  possession  a  la  France. 

Article  III. 

Sont  annulees  toutes  les  dispositions  rattachant  a  la  Confederation 
germanique  les  territoires  places  sous  la  souverainete  du  Hoi  des  Pays 
Bas,  ainsi  que  celles  relatives  au  droit  de  garuison  dans  la  forteresse  de 
Luxembourg. 

*  Prussian  "  Official  Gazette." 


406  PRINCE  BISMARCK. 

to  sign  secret  Treaties*  conferring  the  command  of  their 
several  armies  on  the  King  of  Prussia,  in  the  event  of 
a  national  struggle. 

And  tins,  then,  was  the  consideration  which  had 
induced  Bismarck  to  let  off  the  States  of  the  South  on 
such  easy  terms.  At  Nicolsburg,  he  had  put  off  French 
claims  of  compensation  until  after  the  conclusion  of 
peace  with  Austria,  and  now  he  had  devised  means  of 
defying  them  altogether.  Now  it  was  that  Monsieur 
Benedetti  bitterly  experienced  how  bootless  it  is  to  shut 
the  stable-door  after  the  steed  is  stolen.  He  and  his 
master  had  been  completely  duped. 

<;  Very  well,  then,  let  there  be  war"  —  that  was  the 
response  to  his  ultimatum  of  "  Mayence,  or  ...  ,"  with, 
which  Monsieur  Benedetti  had  to  hurry  back  to  Paris, 
where  a  glimmering  consciousness  of  the  situation  had 
already  broken  in  upon  the  flatulent  mind  of  Napoleon. 
"  Are  we  prepared  to  fight  all  Germany  ?  "  asked  the 
Emperor  of  his  Marshals.  "Not  at  all,"  replied  his 
Marshals,  "until  our  whole  army,  like  -that  of  Prussia, 
is  supplied  with  a  breechloader,  until  our  drill  is  modi- 
fied to  suit  the  new  weapon,  until  our  fort- 

Napoleon     re- 

and  resses  are  in  a  perfect  state  of  prepared- 


ness, and  until  we  create  a  mobile  and  efficient 
national  reserve."  "  Very  well,  then,  "responded  Napoleon, 

*  These  Treaties  were  signed  on  the  22nd  of  August,  on  the  very  day 
before  the  signature  of  ihe  Treaty  of  Prague,  which  secured  to  the  Southern 
States  "  an  international  and  independent  existence  ;  "  but  the  fact  was  kept 
secret  till  the  following  year,  when  it  was  divulged  as  a  damper  on  the 
bellicose  ambition  of  Napoleon,  who  had  begun  to  cast  about  for  another 
cause  of  quarrel  with  Prussia.  See  further  on,  when  we  come  to  speak  of 
Luxemburg,  p.  429  et  passim. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME"  407 

sadly  and  dejectedly,  "  let  all  these  things  be  done  as 
fast  as  possible;  and  meanwhile  we  must  justify  and 
explain  our  necessary  change  of  front  by  sacrificing  you, 
M.  Drouyn  de  Lhuys,  our  trusty  and  well-beloved 
Minister  of  Foreign  Affairs,  who  have  acted  indiscreetly 
in  making  such  proposals  to  Prussia.  France's  real 
interest  does  not  consist  in  receiving  an  insignificant 
addition  of  territory,  but  in  helping  Grermany  to  consti- 
tute herself  in  the  manner  most  conducive  to  our 
interests  and  those  of  Europe ; "  *  or  in  other  words,  "  it 
is  true  we  wish  to  put  our  hand  in  your  pocket,  but  only 
to  mend  a  hole  in  it,  and  not  to  steal  your  money." 
It  was  precisely  as  if  a  highway  robber,  presenting  an 
old  and  empty  horse-pistol  at  the  head  of  a  traveller, 
had  demanded  his  money  or  his  life  ;  and,  on  finding  that 
his  victim  drew  from  his  pocket,  not  a  purse,  but  a  six- 
chambered  revolver  of  the  most  approved  modern  type, 
had  turned  pale  and  taken  to  his  heels,  hissing  out 
curses  of  disappointment  and  vows  of  another  day.  And 
alas  for  the  highway  robber,  and  alas  for  his  nation, 
that  he  x;lung  so  desperately  to  his  vows ! 

Meanwhile  Prussia  proceeded  with  all  energy  to  set 
her  newly  acquired  house  in  order,  and  heeded        A  Bill  of 
not  the  midnight  thief  who  prowled  around 
it,   seeking   means   of    burglarious    entry  but   finding 

*  Letter  of  the  Emperor  to  M.  de  la  Yalette  of  12th  August.  M. 
Drouyn  de  Lhuys  finally  retired  from  office  on  the  2nd  September,  in  con- 
sequence of  the  failure  of  his  "  compensation  policy,"  and — remarkable 
coincidence  ! — Louis  Napoleon  also  retired  from  office  in  a  very  much  more 
riolent  manner,  on  the  same  day  four  years  afterwards,  and  for  precisely 
the  same  reason  1 


408  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

none.  From  the  hardships  of  the  tented  field  and  the 
labours  of  treaty -making,  Bismarck  now  again  passed  to 
the  arena  of  parliamentary  fight.  Writing  to  his  wife 
from  Prague  (3rd  August)  on  his  way  home,  he  said : — 

"  To-morrow  we  expect  to  be  in  Berlin.  Great  contention  about 
the  Speech  from  the  Throne.  The  good  people  have  not  enough  to  do, 
and  see  nothing  but  their  own  noses,  and  exercise  their  swimming 
powers  on  the  stormy  waves  of  phrase.  Our  foes  we  can  manage, 
but  our  friends  !  Almost  all  of  them  wear  blinkers,  and  see  only  one 
spot  of  the  world." 

"Passed  to  the  arena  of  parliamentary  fight,"  did 
we  say  ?  No ;  rather  of  parliamentary  victory.  For 
the  battle  of  Koniggratz,  in  addition  to  ending  the 
long-standing  quarrel  between  Prussia  and  Austria,  had 
also  closed  the  bitter  conflict  which  had  for  the  last  four 
years  divided  the  King  of  Prussia  from  his  people.  The 
elections  had  been  held — not,  perhaps,  without  design — 
in  the  earlier  stage  of  the  Bohemian  campaign,  and, 
under  the  influence  of  the  telegrams  announcing  the 
victorious  progress  of  the  national  arms,  the  country 
returned  a  Chamber  in  which  the  moderate  Liberal 
element  predominated  over  the  Progressists,  or  party  of 
pure  negation.  On  the  day  after  his  return  to  the 
capital,  the  new  Diet  was  ceremoniously  opened  by  the 
King,*  who  begged  to  be  now  formally  acquitted  of 

*  "  The  Speech  from  the  Throne  did  not  disappoint  the  expectations 
raised  by  the  promising  state  of  politics.  The  King,  who  entered  with  the 
Crown  Prince  and  other  Princes  of  the  House,  received  the  pregnant  manu- 
script from  the  hands  of  his  Premier,  and  read  it  aloud  with'  a  firm  and 
sonorous  voice.  His  Majesty  began  by  thanking  God  for  the  victory 
accorded  to  his  arms.  He  hoped  that  the  results  of  the  campaign  would 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  409 

having  ruled  so  long  without  a  budget.  Eager  to  seize 
the  hand  of  peace  thus  extended  to  it,  yet  covering  its 
eagerness  with  a  decent  veil  of  professorial  doctrine,  the 
grateful  Chamber  not  only  passed  a  Bill  of  Indemnity  on 
all  irregular  acts  of  the  Government  during  the  Conflict- 
Time,*  but  also,  as  a  special  proof  of  its  confidence,  and 
a  special  admission  of  its  own  past  errors  of  judgment, 
complied  with  the  demand  for  a  credit  of  sixty  million 
thalers  (the  war  had  cost  eighty-eight)  to  defend,  if  need 
be,  what  had  already  been  won ;  for  Bismarck  confessed 
that  the  aims  of  his  foreign  policy  were  still  far  from 
attained. 

redound  to  the  permanent  benefit  of  the  country,  and  pave  the  way  for  the 
attainment  of  the  national  objects  of  Germany.  Then  passing  on  to 
domestic  affairs,  he  briefly  commented  on  the  constitutional  controversy 
that  had  been  going  on  before  the  war,  and  accounting  for  the  irregular 
military  expenditure  by  a  reference  to  the  necessities  of  the  time,  asked  for 
a  Bill  of  Indemnity.  His  Majesty's  words — sober  and  unpretending  as 
ever — were  received  with  loud  applause.  As  the  royal  speech,  so  was  the 
attitude  of  the  House :  business-like,  and  without  the  slightest  tinge  of  an 
elation  which  might  have  been  pardonable  in  the  first  flush  of  a  brilliant 
success." — The  Times  Correspondent. 

*  In  the  Lower  Chamber  this  Bill  was  carried  by  230  against  75  votes, 
while  in  the  Upper  House  it  was  passed  unanimously.  "  We  wish  for 
peace,"  said  Bismarck,  "  because  the  Fatherland  is  at  this  moment  more  in 
want  of  it  than  before,  and  because  we  hope  that  we  shall  now  find  it.  We 
should  have  asked  for  it  sooner,  had  we  thought  we  should  find  it.  We 
trust  we  shall  now  find  it  because  you  will  have  seen  that  the  Govern- 
ment is  not  so  indifferent  to  the  task  which  the  greater  portion  of  you  also 
have  at  heart,  not  so  indifferent  as  perhaps  you  thought  some  years  ago, 
not  so  indifferent  as  the  silence  of  the  Government  about  much  that  had  to 
be  kept  silent  might  have  warranted  you  to  believe.  But  our  task  is  not 
yet  complete ;  demanding  as  it  does  the  unity  of  the  entire  nation  both 
in  deed,  and  for  the  impression  we  must  thus  make  abroad.  It  has  often 
been  said  that  the  pen  has  forfeited  what  the  sword  has  won ;  but  I  am 
thoroughly  confident  we  shall  not  hear  that  what  sword  and  pen  have 
together  won,  has  been  annihilated  from  this  tribune." — Speech  on  1st 
September, 


410  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

For  the  rest,  the  most  important  work  of  the  session 
was  the  passing  of  a  law  annexing  Hanover,  Electoral 

Hesse,  Nassau,  and  the  city  of  Frankfort ; 
enSy&to  and  on  the  day  of  its  promulgation — 20th 

September  —  representative  bodies  of  the 
victorious  Prussian  army  made  their  triumphal  entry 
into  Berlin.  The  King,  who  headed  his  home-returning 
heroes,  was  preceded  by  his  three  mightiest  men  of 
valour — Moltke,  Eoon,  and  Bismarck — the  last  now 
raised  to  the  rank  of  a  Major-Greneral ;  and  as  the 
brilliant  cavalcade  proceeded  down  the  Linden  through 
a  flower- strewn  lane  of  more  than  two  hundred  captured 
Austrian  guns,  and  past  the  spot  where,  but  a  few  weeks 
before,  an  attempt  had  been  made  to  take  his  life  :  the 
soldier-statesman,  with  the  pale  and  overworked  but 
high  and  haughty  look,  most  conspicuous  on  his  prancing 
charger  amid  his  companion-conquerors,  must  have  been 
made  to  ponder  sadly,  yet  proudly,  on  his  .employment  as 
the  instrument  of  his  country's  fate — made  to  do  so  by 
the  showers  of  laurel-wreaths,  the  sky-cleaving  cheers, 
the  clangorous  acclaim  of  bells,  and  the  saluting  thunder 
of  cannon,  all  blended  into  the  frenzied  psean  of  a 
victorious  people.* 

*  Bismarck's  appearance  on  that  day  is  thus  described  by  the  correspon- 
dent of  an  English  newspaper  (quoted  in  Mr.  Edward  Dicey's  "Battlefields 
of  1866  ")  :  "  But  for  my  part  I  own  I  could  spare  but  little  attention  for 
the  King  himself.  A  few  yards  further  on  there  stood  a  group  of  horsemen. 
One  was  General  von  Boon,  the  Minister  of  War;  another  was  General 
Moltke,  the  soldier  to  whom  more  than  any  single  person  the  conduct  and 
conception  of  the  campaign  are  due.  On  the  extreme  right,  in  the  white 
uniform  of  a  major "  (should  be  major-general)  "  of  Landwehr  Cuiras- 
siers, a  broad-shouldered,  short-necked  man  sat  mounted  on  a  brown  bay 
mare.  Very  still  and  silent  the  rider  sits,  waiting  patiently  until  the  inter. 


THE  "CONFLICT-TIME."  411 

But  their  victory  had  well-nigh  cost  them  dear,  for 
it  had  shaken  the  Herculean  frame  of  the  man  to  whom 
it  was  mostly  due;  and  no  sooner  had  he,  paimamqui 
against  the  advice  of  his  doctor,  figured  in 
the  triumphal  pageant  which  closed  the  second  act  of 
the  great  national  drama,  than  away  he  hurried  to  the 
country  in  search  of  rest  and  health.  Among  the  oaken 
groves  of  the  island  of  Eiigen,  fanned  by  bracing  breezes 
from  the  Baltic,  he  strove  to  forget  the  public  cares 
which  had  crushed  him  down;  and  his  convalescence 
was  hastened  by  the  nattering  news  that  his  grateful 
countrymen  had  assigned  to  him  the  first  share  of  the 
sum  of  one  and  a  half  million  thalers  voted  for  distri- 

view  between  the  King  and  the  civic  authorities  is  concluded.  The  skin  of 
his  face  is  parchment- coloured,  with  dull  leaden-hued  blotches  about  the 
cheeks  ;  the  eyes  are  bloodless ;  the  veins  about  the  forehead  are  swollen ; 
the  great  heavy  helmet  presses  upon  the  wrinkled  brows ;  the  man  looks 
as  if  he  had  risen  from  a  sick-bed  which  he  never  ought  to  have  left.  That 
is  Count  Bismarck-Schonhausen,  Prime  Minister  of  Prussia.  Yesterday 
he  was  said  to  be  well-nigh  dying ;  ugly  rumours  floated  about  the  town  ; 
his  doctors  declared  that  rest,  absolute  rest,  was  the  only  remedy  upon 
which  they  could  base  their  hopes  of  his  recovery.  But  to-day  it  was 
important  that  the  Premier  should  show  himself.  The  iron  will,  which 
had  nev^r  swerved  before  any  obstacle,  was  not  to  be  daunted  by  physical 
pain,  or  to  be  swayed  by  medical  remonstrances.  And  so,  to  the  astonish- 
ment of  all  those  who  knew  how  critical  his  state  of  health  had  been  but  a 
few  hours  before,  Count  Bismarck  put  on  his  uniform  and  rode  out  to-day 
to  take  his  place  in  the  royal  cortege.  Even  now  the  man  who  has  made  a 
united  Germany  a  possibility,  and  has  raised  Prussia  from  the  position  of 
a  second-rate  Power  to  the  highest  rank  among  continental  empires,  is  but 
scantly  honoured  in  his  own  country ;  and  the  cheers  with  which  he  was 
greeted  were  tame  compared  with  those  which  welcomed  the  generals  who 
had  been  the  instruments  of  the  work  his  brain  had  planned.  But  to 
those,  I  think,  who  looked  at  all  beyond  the  excitement  of  the  day,  the 
true  hero  of  that  brilliant  gathering  was  neither  King  nor  princes  of  the 
blood  royal,  generals  nor  soldiers,  but  the  sallow,  livid-looking  statesman, 
who  was  there  in  spite  of  racking  pain  and  doctors'  advice  and  the 
commonest  caution,  in  order  that  his  work  might  be  completed  to  the  end," 


412  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

bution  among  the  chief  actors  in  the  war ;  *  assigned 
to  him  the  first  share  for  those  splendid  services  which 
had  opened  up  to  his  country's  arms  a  swifter  and  more 
dazzling  career  of  glory  than  had  ever  graced  the  reign 
of  Frederick  the  Great;  which  had  increased  the  area 
and  population  of  his  country  by  a  fourth  of  their  previous 
extent ;  which  had  made  Prussia  undisputed  arbitress  of 
the  fate  of  Germany ;  and  which  had  all  but  realised  the 
dreams  of  perfect  national  unity  for  which  his  distracted 
countrymen  had  greatly  suffered  and  vainly  bled. 

We  will  conclude  this  chapter  with  the  words  which 
Thomas  Carlyle  wrote  to  a  friend  on  the  very  day  (23rd 
August),  though  yet  unknown  to  him,  when  the  Peace 
of  Prague  was  signed  : — 

"  That  Germany  is  to  stand  on  her  feet  henceforth,  and  not  be 
dismembered  on  the  highway;  but  face  all  manner  of  Napoleons 
and  hungry,  sponging  dogs,  with  clear  steel  in  her  hand,  and  an 
honest  purpose  in  her  heart — this  seems  to  me  the  best  news  we  or 
Europe  have  heard  for  the  last  forty  years  or  more.  May  the 
Heavens  prosper  it !  Many  thanks  also  for  Bismarck's  photograph  ; 
he  has  a  royal  enough  physiognomy,  and  I  more  and  more  believe  him 
to  be  a  highly  considerable  man  ;  perhaps  the  nearest  approach  to  a 
Cromwell  that  is  well  possible  in  these  poor  times." 

*  The  other  recipients  of  this  public  bounty — which  was  taken  out  of 
the  war-indemnity  fund — were  Generals  Roon,  Moltke,  Herwarth  von 
Bittenfeld,  Yon  Steinmetz,  and  Vogel  von  Falckenstein.  The  original 
draft  of  this  Dotation  Bill  only  made  mention  of  the  Prussian  "  army- 
leaders  "  as  its  objects ;  but  at  the  instance  of  the  committee,  to  which  it 
was  referred,  the  name  of  Count  Bismarck  was  inserted  as  the  chief  and 
most  meritorious  beneficiary.  Bismarck  received  400.000  thalers  ( £60,000)  ; 
General  Roon,  the  War  Minister,  300,000  thalers ;  and  Generals  Moltke, 
Steinmetz,  Vogel  von  Falckenstein,  and  Herwartb  von  Bittenfeld  each 
200,000  thalers. 


CHAPTER  Yin. 

THE  NORTH  GERMAN  CONFEDERATE  >  *. 

OUR  last  chapter  ended   with  -the  triumphal  entry  of 

the  Prussian   troops    into    Berlin  after  the    Bohemian 

campaign,   and  this  one   must  begin  with 

another    striking     pageant — the     opening     North  German 

of    the    first    North    German    Parliament 

(24th    February,    1867),    in   the    throne-room    of    the 

royal  palace.*     About  three  hundred  deputies — chosen 

*  "The  walls  of  the  time-honoured  apartment  looked  down  upon  a 
gathering  such  as  had  never  before  been  witnessed  there.  There  met  men 
from  the  Russian  frontier,  where  winter  lasts  seven  months,  with  the  more 
fortunate  sons  of  the  Rhine,  whose  climate  has  little  experience  of  northern 
rigours.  The  Schleswiger,  a  genuine  descendant  of  the  Saxon,  preferring 
to  this  day  the  homely  idiom  of  his  race  to  the  literary  language  of  the 
common  Fatherland,  shook  hands  with  the  Frank  from  Coburg,  whose 
ancestors,  under  Charlemagne,  combated  and  converted  to  Christianity  the 
tribes  of  the  German  North.  The  Thuringian  and  Hessian  from  the 
central  parts  of  the  country,  after  long  years  of  separation,  associated  again 
with  the  Pomeranian  from  the  Baltic,  and  the  Frisian,  the  Anglo-Saxon 
brother  of  the  Englishman,  from  the  North  Sea.  With  the  exception  of 
two,  the  various  branches  of  the  German  national  family  were  all  repre- 
sented in  the  Hall;  and,  though  the  absence  of  the  missing  ones  was 
noticed  and  commented  upon  with  regret,  the  hope  of  soon  comprehending 
the  Bavarians  and  Suabians  in  the  goodly  company  beat  strong  in  many  a 

loyal  heart When  everything  was  ready,  Count  Bismarck, 

in  his  white  cavalry  uniform,  repaired  to  the  royal  apartment  to  inform  the 
King  that  the  first  Parliament  of  the  North  German  Confederacy  was 
awaiting  the  royal  presence.  Then  the  royal  train  came  into  view,  more 
solemn,  more  numerous,  and  more  richly  attired  than  any  that  has  ever 
graced  a  similar  display  in  Prussia." — Times  Correspondent. 


414  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

for  three  years — had  been  returned  to  this  Constituent 
Assembly  from  the  various  allied  States,  by  universal 
suffrage — a  principle  which  had  figured  in  the  Frank- 
fort Constitution  (of  1848),  as  well  as  in  tfhe  counter- 
schemes  of  Federal  reform  wherewith  Bismarck  had  met 
the  plans  of  Austria  in  1863,  and  than  which,  with  all 
its  defects,  he  himself  avowed  he  knew  no  better  electoral 
law.  Eepresentatives  of  the 'allied  Governments  had 
meanwhile  drawn  up  a  Federal  Charter,  which  had 
been  framed,  Bismarck  declared,  not  with  the  view  of 
attaining  a  theoretical  ideal,  but  with  the  simple  aim  of 
meeting  the  present  practical  wants  of  the  nation,  and 
of  avoiding  the  errors  into  which  the  Constitution- 
makers  of  Frankfort  and  Erfurt  had  fallen. 

According  to  this  Constitution,  the  twenty-two 
States  north  of  the  Main  formed  themselves  into  a 
"  perpetual  league  for  the  protection  of  the  Union  and 
The  Federal  ^s  institutions,  as  well  as  for  the  care 

Constitution.         Qf    ^    welfare    Qf     ^     German    people."  * 

Legislative  power  was  to  be  vested  in  two  bodies — the 
Eeichstag,  representing  the  people,  and  the  Bundesrath, 
composed  of  delegates  from  the  allied  Governments 
— the  perpetual  presidency  of  the  latter  body  being 
vested  in  the  King  of  Prussia.  So  far,  this  was  a  Legis- 
lature of  the  bi-cameral  kind;  but  the  Bundesrath, 


*  The  Confederated  States  were:  Prussia,  Saxony,  Mecklenburg- 
Schweriu,  Oldenburg,  Brunswick,  Saxe-Weimar,  Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 
Saxe-Meiningen,  Anhalt,  Saxe-Coburg-Gotha,  Saxe-Altenburg,  Waldeck, 
Lippe-Detmold,  Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt,  Schwarzburg-Sondershauseo, 
Reuss-Schleiz,  Reuss-Greiz,  Schaumburg-Lippe,  Lippe,  and  the  free  cities 
Hamburg,  Liibeck,  and  Bremen. 


THE  NORTH  GERMAN  CONFEDERATION.     415 

or  Federal  Council,  also  comprised  the  functions  of  what, 
in  England,  would  be  those  of  the  House  of  Lords  and 
of  the  Crown ;  and  in  its  name  all  executive  power  was 
vested  in  the  King  of  Prussia,  who,  acting  under  its 
authority,  was  to  have  the  supreme  command  of  the 
army,  declare  war  and  peace,  appoint  ambassadors,  and 
conduct  negotiations  with  foreign  Powers.  The  cost  of 
administration  was  to  be  contributed  by  the  various 
States  in  proportion-  to  their  population,  on  whom  was 
likewise  placed  the  additional  burden  of  universal  lia- 
bility to  military  service — all  the  Federal  forces  being 
reorganised  on  the  Prussian  model,  and  the  strength  of 
the  standing  army  (on  a  peace  footing)  fixed  at  one 
per  cent,  of  all  the  inhabitants.* 

While  foreign  affairs,  and  all  other  matters  of  com- 
mon interest,  naturally  fell  within  the  exclusive  com- 
petency of  the  new  Federal  Diet  and  Government, 
full  legislative  and  administrative  liberty  Homo.ruie  ^ 
was  left  to  the  individual  States  — as  Germany- 
is  the  case,  for  example,  in  the  North  American 
Union  —  which  were  thus  accorded  the  privilege 
of  home -rule  ;  and  though  Bismarck  feared  that 
the  old  war-cries  of  "Hi,  Guelph,"  "Hi,  ahibeline," 
which  once  divided  the  Empire,  would  now  be  succeeded 
by  a  "  parliamentary  particularism  "  —  whereof  "  Hi, 
Landtag,'7  "  Hi,  Reichstag  "  would  be  the  watchwords 
• — the  powers  of  autonomy  thus  granted  to  the  various 
members  of  the  Confederation  proved,  on  the  whole,  a 

*  From  this  it  followed  that,  though  all  men  capable  of  bearing  arms 
were  bound  to  serve,  some  were  not  necessarily  called  out, 


416  FRINGE  BISMARC& 

real  blessing  to  the  nation.  The  passing  of  a  law 
requiring  a  majority"  in  both  bodies,  it  followed  that 
considerable  power,  though  chiefly  of  a  negative  and 
consultative  kind,  had  thus  been  accorded  to  the  German 
people  as  the  result  and  reward  of  their  services  and 
sacrifices  in  the  national  cause  ;  but  the  balance  of 
legislative  authority  still  lay  with  the  Federal  Council, 
and  more  than  a  third  of  the  authority  of  this  body 
itself  was  in  the  hands  of  the  King  of  Prussia. 

Such,  then,  were  the  main  general  features  of  the 
Federal  Constitution,  of  which  the  discussion  formed 

S0^6    ^aS^    °^    ^6    ^rS^     North    German 


Parliamentary 

Parliament,  or  Eeichstag.  The  party 
complexion  of  this  body  was  very  different  from  that 
of  the  Prussian  Chamber  which  had  waged  four 
long  years  of  bitter  conflict  with  the  Crown.  The 
members  of  the  Federal  Assembly,  it  is  true,  were 
divided  into  no  fewer  than  ten  various  fractions,* 
each  hugging  its  own  particular  dogma  with  the  well- 
known  preference  of  a  mother  for  a  frail  and  deformed 
child;  and  thus  it  might  have  gone  hard  with  the 
Government  but  for  the  fact  that  the  balance  of  parlia- 
mentary power  was  now  in  the  hands  of  a  party  to 
which  the  battle  of  Koniggratz  had  given  birth. 

This  was  the  party  of  the  National  Liberals,  of  which 
the  chief  founders  were  two  men  destined  to  play  a 

*  Conservatives,  59  ;  Free  Conservatives,  40  ;  Centre,  27  ;  Federal 
Constitutionalists,  18  ;  National  Liberals,  79  ;  Free  Unionists,  18  ;  Radical 
Left  (or  Progressists),  19;  Poles,  13;  Danes,  2;  'Savages'  or  Inde- 
pendents, 25—  total,  297,  which,  of  course,  included  deputies  from  the 
provinces  annexed  by  Prussia. 


NORTH  GERMAN  CONFEDERATION.  417 

prominent  part  in  the  parliamentary  history  of  their 
country — Herr  von  Bennigsen,  a  country  squire  of  sense 
and  substance   from  the  annexed   province 
of    Hanover;    and   Dr.  Edward  Lasker,   a     Liberate1  ana 

the  Progres- 

lisping  little  Jewish  lawyer  from  Posen,  who  S^enana1" 
had  lived  for  several  years  in  London, 
and  returned  with  his  clever  head  crammed  full  of 
modern  instances  from  the  constitutional  history  of 
England.  In  the  Prussian  Chamber,  the  latter  had  sat 
among  the  Eadicals ;  but  the  events  of  1866  had  con- 
vinced him  and  others  of  his  party  that  the  best  justifi- 
cation of  a  policy  is  its  success — better  even  than  a  bill 
of  indemnity — and  that  the  duty  of  true  patriots  was  to 
support  the  national  policy  of  Bismarck.  This,  indeed, 
had  long  been  urged  by  the  Hanoverian  Herr  von  Ben- 
nigsen, founder  (1859)  and  president  of  that  National 
Union  which  had  become  the  rallying  point  for  all  those 
who,  in  1849,  had  been  disappointed  in  their  hopes  of 
seeing  Prussia  place  herself  at  the  head  of  a  free  and 
united  Germany.  The  Progressists,  it  is  true,  were  not 
averse  from  seeing  Germany  become  united,  but  they 
held  that  the  easiest  way  of  doing  this  was  first  to  make 
her  free ;  while  the  National  Liberals  deemed  it  safer 
and  wiser  to  subordinate  the  development  of  her  internal 
institutions  to  the  accomplishment  of  her  national  aims. 
Such,  then,  was  the  patriotic  party — numerically  greater 
than  any  other  single  fraction — which  now,  joining  their 
forces  with  the  Conservatives,  rallied  round  Bismarck's 
banner,  and  helped  to  bear  it  on  from  one  parliamentary 
victory  to  another  for  the  next  ten  years,  until  doctrine 

B    B 


418  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

and  defection   at   last  thinned   and   disorganised  their 
ranks. 

To  the  National  Liberals  it  was  mainly  due  that 

the   Federal  Charter  was  accepted  by  the  Constituent 

Eeichstag.     But  it  was  not  accepted  with- 

§?ern3ier      out  some  material  modifications,  and  a  dan- 

Bismarck  and  . 

Harry  Hot-  gerous  amount  of  that  academic  wrangling 
so  dear  to  the  Teutonic  mind.  "  Show 
me  two  Germans,"  said  the  wise  man,  "and  I  will 
find  you  two  opinions."  The  protests  of  the  Poles 
and  the  Danes  against  amalgamation  in  a  nation  not 
their  own  were,  of  course,  soon  disposed  of;  but  some 
other  points  were  debated  with  an  obstinacy  which  made 
Bismarck  feel,  he  said,  like  Harry  Hotspur  when, 
"  breathless  and  faint"  after  the  battle,  he  was  "pestered 
with  a  popinjay  "  of  a  hair-splitting  and  circumstantial 
lord.*  To  him  it  was  incomprehensible  that  the  parlia- 
mentary doctrinaires  should  raise  such  a  dust  about 
unessential  matters,  under  the  blinding  clouds  of  which 
the  nation  might  again  lose  its  way  and  miss  its  goal. 
He  had  exhorted  the  Assembly  to  do  its  work  quickly. 
"  Only  let  us  lift  Germany  into  the  saddle,  so  to  speak," 
he  said,  "and  she  will  ride  of  herself."!  But  the 
Liberals  deemed  the  curb  of  the  noble  steed — hard  as 

*  Speech  of  29th  March.  To  describe  his  state  of  feeling  at  that 
moment,  Bismarck  referred  his  audience  to  Hotspur's  speech  in  the 
beginning  of  "  Henry  IY.,"  quoting  himself  in  English  the  first  two  lines : 

"  But  I  remember  when  the  fight  was  o'er, 
When  I  was  dry  with  rage  and  extreme  toil,"  etc. 

t  Speech  of  llth  March. 


THE  NORTH  GERMAN  CONFEDERATION.    419 

was  its  mouth — a  little  too  strong,  and  suggested  a 
looser  rein.     They  succeeded,  too,  in  slackening  it. 

Of  thirty-six  amendments  introduced  by  them 
into  the  draft  of  the  Federal  Charter,  Bismarck  at 
last  declared  that  all  save  two  would  be  sanctioned 
by  the  allied  Governments. .  But  on  the  Congtitutional 
question  of  these  two  he  was  inexorable. 
He  would  on  no  account  hear  of  deputies  receiving 
daily  pay,  thus  converting  legislation  into  a  lucrative 
profession  attainable  by  "  Catiline  existences,"  and 
other  chaotic  and  improper  elements;  nor  would  he 
extend  the  budget-rights  of  Parliament  to  the  army, 
and  thus  expose  the  safety  of  the  nation  (he  might 
also  have  added,  tbe  aims  of  his  foreign  policy)  to 
the  caprices  of  a  fortuitous  majority.  Much  against 
his  will,  he  had  consented  to  the  eligibility  of  Govern- 
ment officials  as  deputies,  to  the  exemption  of  veracious 
parliamentary  reports  from  the  law  of  libel,  and  to  other 
important  assertions  of  constitutional  right ;  but,  on 
the  subject  of  the  army,  he  vowed  he  would  remain 
firm.  And  yet  even  on  this  point  he  had  to  effect  a 
compromise;  for,  demanding  a  lump  sum  to  maintain 
the  peace -establishment  at  one  per  cent,  of  the  popula- 
tion for  ten  years,  he  had  in  the  long  run  to  content 
himself  with  a  period  of  only  five. 

On  the  part  of  the  Reichstag  this  was  a  very  con- 
siderable relaxation  of  its  hold  upon  the  purse-strings  of 
the  State,  and  it  was  to  its  credit  that  this  partial 
alienation  of  its  rights  resulted  from  the  victory  of  its 
patriotism  over  its  fine-spun  constitutional  principles. 
B  B  2 


420  PHINCE  &18MA&O& 

The  provisional  Treaty  of  Federal  Alliance  had  only  been 
concluded  till  August,  1867 ;  time  was  flying,  and  what 
was  to  happen  if,  before  then,  the  Constitution  were  not 
approved  by  the  Reichstag  and  sanctioned  by  each  of 
the  local  Diets  ?  Besides,  a  dark  cloud  was  beginning 
to  loom  up  on  Germany's  western  frontier,  threatening 
to  burst  in  a  deluge  and  disperse  the  flock  before  the 
national  shepherd  could  bring  it  beneath  the  same 
protecting  fold.  It  was  no  time  to  quarrel  about 
constitutional  trifles  when  the  Gaul,  in  the 


The  Gaul  in 


theega?bofna       humble    garb    of  a   beggar,    but   with  the 

beggar,  with  . 

robber80* a  threatening  eye  of  a  robber,  was  beating 
at  the  gates.  "Napoleon,  unearthing  his 
tomahawk,  had  forced  the  contending  parties  to  renounce 
their  favourite  crotchets,  relax  the  fists  already  doubled, 
and  shake  hands  with  open  palm."*  On  the  17th 
April  the  Constitution  of  the  North  German  Confedera- 
tion, in  the  form  already  indicated,  was  carried,  one 
may  almost  say  rushed  through,  by  a  large  majority. t 
Germany  had  at  last  been  "  lifted  into  the  saddle,"  and 
Bismarck  was  appointed  her  riding-master,  or  Chancellor 
of  the  Confederation.  "  The  time  has  now  come,"  said 
King  William,  in  closing  the  Constituent  E/eichstag, 
"  when  our  German  Fatherland  is  able  to  stand  up  for 
its  peace,  its  rights,  and  its  dignity  with  its  united 
strength."  This  hint,  or  threat,  was  addressed  to 


*  Times  Correspondent. 

f  The  Constitution  was  subsequently  approved  by  all  the  Parliaments 
of  the  Federal  States  by  large  majorities — in  the  Prussian  Diet,  e.g.,  by 
226  to  91 ;  and  in  the  Saxon  Diet  by  67  to  6. 


THE   NORTH   GERMAN  CONFEDERATION.  421 

France;   but  what  in  the  world  had   France  done  to 
deserve  it? 

When  deep  in  the  discussion  of  its  constitutional 
dogmas,  the  attention  of  the  Reichstag  was  suddenly 
occupied  with  a  question  which  showed  the  nation  that 
it  was  by  no  means  yet  at  liberty  to  settle 

-.  .-,  ,.  -,          /.  ..          An  Imperial 

down   to  the  exclusive  task  or    setting  its     burglar  and 

his  treatment. 

house  in  order,  "heedless  of  the  midnight 
thief  who  prowled  around  it."  .  For,  alas !  that  masked 
and  midnight  thief,  by  persistent  skulking  and 
watching,  had  at  last  discovered  an  open  window 
in  the  new  but  incomplete  edifice  of  Grerman  unity. 
That  window  was  the  Duchy  of  Luxemburg ;  but 
what  can  avail  a  jemmy  in  the  hands  of  a  burglar 
clinging  to  a  rope-ladder  against  a  resolute  householder 
vigilantly  ensconced  behind  the  window-curtain,  and 
armed  with  a  loaded  revolver  ?  Again,  too,  the  weapon 
was  silently  levelled  at  the  breast  of  the  robber,  just  as 
he  had  laid  his  hand  upon  the  window-sill,  and  again 
with  effect.  The  revolver  was  drawn  on  the  18th 
March  (1867),  when  the  secret  treaties  of  alliance — 
offensive  and  defensive — concluded  the  previous  year 
between  Prussia  and  the  Southern  States — were  now 
published  to  an  astonished  Europe,  especially  to  an 
astonished  France  ;  and  it  was  cocked  and  presented  on 
the  1st  April,  when  Bismarck  replied  to  a  parliamentary 
question  on  the  subject  of  Luxemburg.  This  inter- 
pellation was  the  outcome  of  a  storm  of  wrath  and 
excitement  which  shook  the  heart  of  the  nation,  on 
its  being  rumoured  that  Napoleon  was  stretching  out 


422  FRINGE   BISMARCK. 

his  hand  to  seize  this  German  Duchy.*  "And  in  this 
case  rumour  was  right,  as  was  proved  by  subsequent 
revelations  which  we  must  now  work  into  our  narra- 
tive. 

How  to  secure  for  France  advantages  corresponding 

to   the   territorial   gains  of  Prussia,    continued   to   be 

Napoleon's  all-absorbing  thought.      We  saw  how  his 

demand  for  Mayence  and  the  Ehine-frontier 

poaiFc°yeofncom-      of  1814  was    indignantly   refused    by  Bis- 

pensation.  *  J    ' 

marck,  but  he  soon  returned  to  the  at- 
tack. Within  a  fortnight  of  M.  Benedetti's  trip  to 
Paris  with  the  last  emphatic  word  of  the  Prussian 
Premier  as  to  the  Ehine,  he  was  back  in  Berlin 
with  fresh  proposals  of  compensation  to  France  in 
the  direction  of  Belgium.  It  was  natural  enough  of 
M.  de  Bismarck,  thought  Napoleon,  to  decline  parting 
with  any  of  his  native  ground,  but  surely  he  would 
never  object  to  the  gratification  of  France's  legitimate 
ambition  at  the  expense  of  a  foreigner.  However 
niggardly  with  his  own,  there  was  at  least  no  reason 
why  he  should  not  be  generous  with  the  goods  of 
others.  So  argued  the  Imperial  robber.  Of  that  there 
is  authentic  and  convincing  evidence,  and  this  consists 
of  a  Draft  Treaty,  in  the  handwriting  of  the  French 
Ambassador,  which  openly  expressed  the  desire  of 

*  Says  Mr.  Blanchard  Jerrold  in  his  "  Life  of  Napoleon  " — in  which, 
by  the  way,  there  are  not  more  than  four  lines  on  the  subject  of  Luxem- 
burg ! — "  The  Emperor's  principle  of  nationalities  as  the  basis  of  his 
foreign  policy,  albeit  generous  and  just,  and  sincerely  and  courageously  and 
obstinately  maintained,"  etc. ;  and  this  of  the  French  ruler  who  wanted  to 
take  German  Luxemburg ! 


THE  NORTH  GERMAN  CONFEDERATION.     423 

Napoleon   to   possess   himself    both   of    Belgium   and 
of  Luxemburg. 

Great  was  the  sensation  when,  on  the  25th  July, 
1870,  a  few  days  after  the  declaration  of  war  with 
France,  this  Predatory  Treaty  was  revealed  to  an  in- 
dignant Europe  through  the  columns  of  The  Times.  In 
publishing  this  document  Bismarck's  aim,  of  course, 
was  to  prove  the  French  Emperor  to  be  still  further  in 
the  wrong  even  than  Europe  believed  him  to  be ;  but 
he  might  well  have  done  this  without  stretching  his  case 
against  him  as  he  did. 

Bismarck  asserted  that  this  shameful  Draft  Treaty 
was  communicated  to  him  in  1867,  after  a  Conference 
of  the  Powers  at  London  had  settled  the  Luxemburg 
question  on  the  basis  of  international  law.*  TheBenedetti 
M.  Benedetti,  on  the  other  hand,  main- 
tained, f  and  supported  his  contention  by  circum- 
stantial evidence  of  a  cogent  kind,  that  the  instru- 
ment belonged  to  the  autumn  of  1866;  and,  in  the 
absence  of  all  Prussian  proof  positive  to  the  con- 
trary, we  are,  in  this  particular  case,  inclined  to  credit 
the  French  version  of  the  affair.  But,  after  all,  the 
date  is  of  less  importance  than  the  fact ;  and  the  fact  is 
certain.  It  was  pretended  by  Mons.  Benedetti  that 
this  treaty,  which  we  deem  of  sufficient  historical 

•  Bismarck's  despatch  to  Count  Bernstorff  of  28th  July,  1870. 

f  "  Ma  mission  en  Prusse,"  pp.  185-6.  "  Monsieur  de  Bismarck 
pretend  que  cet  incident  s'estproduit  apres  le  reglement  de  V affaire  du 
Luxembourg.  Son  interet  d,  le  reculer  de  pres  d'un  an  est  visible ;  maia 
cette  allegation  ne  resiste  pas  a  un  premier  eycamen,  et  d  un  simple  rap- 
prochement de  datei." 


424  PRINCE   BISMARCK. 

interest  to  give  below,*  was  the  suggestion  of  Bismarck, 
who,  he  said,  offered  Belgium  and  Luxemburg  to  France 
in  return  for  the  latter's  aid  in  "  crowning  liis  work, 
and  extending  the  domination  of  Prussia  from  the 

*  On  July  25th,  1870,  The  Times  published  the  following  draft 
Treaty,  proposed  to  Count  Bismarck  by  Count  Benedetti,  the  French 
Ambassador  at  Berlin  : — 

"  His  Majesty  the  King  of  Prussia  and  His  Majesty  the  Emperor  of 
the  French,  judging  it  useful  to  bind  closer  the  ties  of  friendship  which 
unite  them,  and  so  confirm  the  relations  of  good  neighbourhood  which 
happily  exist  between  the  two  countries,  and  being  besides  convinced  that 
to  attain  this  result,  which  is,  moreover,  of  a  kind  to  insure  the  main- 
tenance of  the  general  peace,  it  is  for  their  interest  to  come  to  an  under- 
standing on  the  questions  concerning  their  future  relations,  have